First, in Paul Krugman’s words:
But in this case the non-economic objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, never mind their source. If you only impose restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from domestic sources, you give consumers no incentive to avoid purchasing products that cause emissions in other countries; as a result, you have an inefficient outcome even from a world point of view. So border adjustments here are entirely legitimate in terms of basic economics.
And they’re also probably OK under trade law. The WTO has looked at the issue, and suggests that carbon tariffs may be viewed the same way as border adjustments associated with value-added taxes. It has long been accepted that a VAT is essentially a sales tax — a tax on consumers — which for administrative reasons is collected from producers. Because it’s essentially a tax on consumers, it’s legal, and also economically efficient, to collect it on imported goods as well as domestic production; it’s a matter of leveling the playing field, not protectionism.
And the same would be true of carbon tariffs.
Now, a plain English interpretation by Stephen Spruiell:
"The goal of Waxman-Markey is make the cheapest form of energy we have more expensive, consequently making everything produced in this country more expensive. It would defeat the purpose of this legislation to allow U.S. consumers to evade this energy tax by purchasing products from countries like China that choose not to adopt a similar tax. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to restrict Americans' access to products from these countries, and the president is wrong to oppose such restrictions. What about that don't you dumb hicks understand?"
Well jeez, why didn’t he just say that to begin with? Like dumb hicks everywhere I tend to take my elite speak with a grain of salt. As a man who has remained childless, Krugman hasn’t any real stake in the future so I can only assume his current chirping is more about feeding his own exaggerated sense of self then any actual belief in a discredited “science”.
An over-sized ego isn’t the end of the world; a lot of people suffer from it. However, it would be appreciated if Krugman could find a less dangerous way to express his conceit.