These were the possible outcomes of their choice:
Testifying against their fellow gang member offered a prisoner the potential for a greater reward (freedom) than cooperating with the other prisoner (1 year in prison each). However, if both testified against each other, they would both serve the maximum 2-year sentence.
Leo is stuck in the Dail chamber, potentially facing life after the next election as a back-bencher (or worse) if he doesn’t do something amazing to combat the numerous political parties and independents encroaching on his space. The Early Birds are “people who get up early”, whom Leo claims to represent -aka employed tax payers and voters.
Meet Leo (and his fetching socks)
Even a modest carbon tax scheduled to increase slowly over time would give businesses and consumers confidence that it makes economic sense to invest in low carbon technologies (like insulation and heat pumps) rather than continue to spend money on increasingly more expensive fossil fuels.
Such taxes can be designed so that a portion of revenue goes back to people to alleviate fuel poverty and invest in their household energy retrofit, along with investing the revenue in other emission reducing strategies. And there's nothing to stop Fine Gael from lowering USC while they implement a carbon tax, so people are taxed for consumption, rather than working.
Meet The Early Birds
Let’s Play “The Politician’s Dilemma”
This week, Budget 2019 was upon us. -Instead of the prisoner’s dilemma, it’s a game called the politician’s dilemma where Leo is Santa Claus and the Early Birds are the excited little boys and girls. Paschal is Leo’s friendly elf, here to announce whose naughty or nice, and the Early Birds wish each other “Happy Budget Day” as they head to their breakfast meetings….
A modest carbon tax (less than 3 cent a litre on petrol) is on the table -a lump of coal to many Early Birds who can’t get to work any other way than driving, but a treasure to those who felt would be a true test of Leo’s alleged commitment to addressing climate change.
If Leo proposed a carbon tax in Budget 2019, Ireland would have moved one small step closer to addressing climate change and doffing the climate laggard hat (+1), but he risked alienating the Early Birds and finding himself on the back bench (or worse) after the next election (-1).
BUT, if Leo scraped the carbon tax (as he did), he’d only alienate a small percentage of environmentalists and economists, who already felt pretty alienated by Leo anyway (+/- 0). Sure, Ireland would maintain its reputation as a “climate laggard” (-1) and Leo would still look like hypocrite for his false bravado on climate leadership. However, scraping the carbon tax would be unlikely to impact how the Early Birds treat him at the next election (+1). Plus, if he throws the farmers a bone and gives them money to add some more beef cows to the herd (and more emissions to our atmosphere), he can recover any lost votes from potentially sore eco-warriors...
Leo's decision to scrap the carbon tax at the 11th hour (and add some additional greenhouse gas emissions via agricultural subsidies) was made purely in rationale self interest to survive another election, just like the Prisoner's Dilemma predicts.
I choked up when I heard Prof. John Fitzgerald, ESRI economist and Chair of the Climate Advisory Council, on Newstalk Breakfast after the Budget was announced. Prof. Fitzgerald has argued for nearly 20 years that a carbon tax was a vital part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
When asked on Newstalk if he would consider resigning his position since his advice had been ignored by the Government, Prof. Fitzgerald replied “I’ve been an economist with the ESRI for nearly two decades, so I’m used to being ignored”. Someone please explain to me why our Government ignores an esteemed economist they have paid for advice for nearly two decades…
I was equally upset when I saw Green Party TD Catherine Martin’s tweet in response to the budget. -The Green Party is the only political party who consistently defended the idea of a carbon tax at huge expense to their own “power”. They’ve heeded the advice of experts like Prof. Fitzgerald and Joe Curtain, putting long term societal benefit over short-term ambitions for power, but it hasn’t gotten them anywhere.
Santa and his elves have said they're waiting for the advice from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action to make any changes to carbon tax and that some day far far away there will be an incremental carbon tax established until 2030...
Yesterday was a catastrophic failure of the Irish political and administrative system, and of us, the citizens. If a small wealthy booming country can't adopt the absolute minimum climate measures, even to pretend to care, if this is the world we live in....the world is doomed.
Irish politics right now is driven purely by rationale self-interest, and we’re the prisoners caught playing that game with politicians in the lead up to the next election. The only way to change the game is to elect different people who prioritize societal benefits over their own personal ambition to stay in power. Let me know if you find any...
Keep fighting the good fight!