The carbon tax debate is about the size of government – by Peter Foster (Financial Post – August 11, 2016)

I would like to thank Stephen Gordon for responding (“This isn’t about the size of government.” August 9) to my column (“Dr. Gordon needs to learn.” August 4) in response to his August 2 article, “Conservatives need to learn.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel did a sound job in Wednesday’s Post (“Serious questions about GHG policy”) of pointing to some of the flaws in Professor Gordon’s reasoning, but I feel I also have to respond once more, not least because Gordon seems to be under the impression that I agree with him. I do not, but appreciate the chance to have another bite at the climate policy watermelon.

Gordon shifts somewhat in his response from accusing conservatives of “unreasoning tax hatred” to unreasoning hatred of big government. He claims there is no link between government size and economic growth, while implying that conservatives might only be interested in growth (conservatives are in fact more worried about freedom, which promotes growth).

His claim flies in the face of the “Tragic Vision” held by conservatives going back to Edmund Burke and the Founding Fathers, and summed up by Lord Acton’s trenchant observations about the inevitable corruption of power. Similarly, the central insight of Adam Smith, who was highly cynical about politicians, was that intrusive government destroys wealth.

These towering Enlightenment figures can hardly be considered “unreasoning.”

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