Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The 'low carb economy'

Steve Burrell in the Age says that “both sides of politics, and much of the business community, now agree that Australia must move to a "low carb"economy… like an economic version of [a low carb diet,] it's tough getting used to, but you are supposed to be better for it in the end.”

It’s a nice metaphor, so let’s extend it.

Our Prime Minister, John Howard, is surely advocating the economic equivalent of the Atkins Diet (eat as much fat and meat as you want but no carbs): all you can eat nuclear and ‘clean coal’.

At the other end, the Greens are advocating a version of Jenny Craig (we’ll provide all the food, you just stick to our program): high mandatory renewable energy targets and an end to coal exports.

The economist in me likes the flexibility of Weight Watchers: every food has a point value and you can earn extra points through exercise. You can choose to eat what you like as long as you’re under your points limit each day. That’s like an emissions trading scheme: you get a certain number of points to emit and you can spend them how you wish. So you can choose to eat low point foods (use renewable energy), eat less (improve energy efficiency) or exercise more (offset your emissions).

I like it!

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