EDITORIAL: Robin Hood does Cancun

Goal of climate-change regulation is to shake down the West

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The United Nations‘ climate-change confab in Cancun, Mexico, is its latest attempt to browbeat the West into forking over cash to the Third World. As many developed economies teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, the world body wants those same countries to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to poorer nations to mitigate purported global warming, a highly contentious and unproved theory. “Robin Hood does Cancun” has a certain theatrical ring to it, but stealing from Peter to pay Paul is counterproductive in real life.

Last year’s global warming conference in Copenhagen ended in failure because industrial nations refused to sign any agreement that included a tax on carbon dioxide. Undeterred, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tasked a panel to devise schemes to squeeze $100 billion a year from productive countries by 2020. The jackpot would be handed over to poor countries as a payoff for supposed ecological damage due to alleged climate change. The recommendation on the table is to levy a global tax on carbon dioxide emissions that would jack up the cost from the current $10-$25 a ton to $20-$25.

The U.N. isn’t the only international organization trying to exploit the West’s self-loathing over its riches. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has its own plot for world energy taxes. “To achieve a greener future we need new technologies that can lower the cost of saving the planet,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria in an October report on enviro-taxation. “Shifting part of the tax burden onto pollution makes it more attractive to develop and adopt these clean technologies and promotes green growth.”

Conveniently ignored is the economic damage done when money is extracted from taxpayers and blown on green ruses. The cost is always much greater than any revenue generated. The OECD extols Greece and Ireland for contributing more than 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward environmental taxes, but neither place offers a sustainable economic model. Greece needed a bailout from the European Union to stave off insolvency earlier this year, and Ireland was pulled from the brink with a $118 billion EU loan just last week. For nations already close to the edge during this global economic crisis, going green could mean going under.

There’s no shortage of global tax plans concocted by one worlders to redistribute wealth from successful peoples to failing, corrupt ones. These undervalue the role of human creativity in economic growth. Forced redistribution of assets from the productive to the nonproductive simply discourages one from continuing creative efforts and the other from even starting. There’s less incentive for progress when somebody can get paid to remain a loser. That’s the real message from Cancun.

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