Gary Johnson's "Carbon Fee" Idea is a Bad Idea, and Not Very Libertarian

There are moments when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson seems like he’s the only real choice for President when he’s contrast against the other two mainstream choices that we’ve been presented with.


That said, Johnson has moments that leave me groaning after a very firm palm to the face. One moment in particular happened recently when he gave an interview with Juneau Empire, a publication out of Alaska. Upon being asked about the environment, Johnson twitched out of his Libertarian ideals for a moment and went full on eco-warrior, but with a twist.

From Juneau Empire:

Johnson has been to Alaska several times, including a trip where he summitted Denali. (He’s reached the top of the highest mountain on each continent and is an Ironman triathlete.) He campaigned in Anchorage during his 2012 run for president, holding a rally on the Delaney Park Strip.

“I envy all of you,” he said. “I think it’s the most beautiful state in the country.”

Climate change and a warming world might threaten that.

“I do believe that climate change is occurring. I do believe that it is man-caused,” Johnson said.

To address climate change, Johnson said he believes “that there can be and is a free-market approach to climate change.”

That would include a fee — not a tax, he said — placed on carbon. Such a fee would make pollutants bear a market cost.


This makes the Libertarian in me cringe, and I’m trying to figure out why it doesn’t do the same for Johnson. Painting a tax as a fee, or penalty has been an underhanded way of increasing government control over private business in the past. Recall the Supreme Court decisions on the passage of Obamacare to see how that works.

One way or another, businesses will be limited in their performance due to the fees they’d have to pay for carbon emissions. This is common knowledge when it comes to any government regulation, and a massive no-no when it comes to the Libertarian party. While this might get the left applauding, businesses both big and small, as well as those on the right are going to sneer in Johnson’s direction over it.

At a time when the Libertarian party is trying to rope in as many votes as possible, turning away the right that has migrated to him is not the smartest move, especially in ways that Libertarians can’t defend. Even his friendly stances on Black Lives Matter can be looked at with in a positive light when you consider his criminal justice reform stances. This, however, is not a stance his base will want to stand with him on.


Johnson does, however end the subject with this:

“We as human beings want to see carbon emissions reduced significantly,” but at the same time, he says the United States is only “16 percent of the (global) load” of carbon, and “I don’t want to do anything that harms jobs.”

So are we looking at another Johnson standpoint that he feels he cannot act on due to this economic stances and limited government preferences? We see him say the same thing with his stances on abortion, stating that though he is pro-choice, he would like to make it a states issue and eliminate government funding for it.

Perhaps in the future, Johnson can further clarify his statements. In the meantime, the Libertarian candidate should keep to the Libertarianism that has helped make him so popular.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos