Professors write the darnedest things. After reading two articles written by Columbia Business School professors in my just-arrived copy of Columbia Business, the Alumni Magazine of Columbia Business School, I just had to fire-off an e-mail to the authors, Kent Daniel, Professor of Economics and Finance, and Patrick Bolton, the Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business in the Finance and Economics Division, and a Chazen Senior Scholar. I cc'ed Dean Glenn Hubbard, just so I could drop his name here.
Dear Professors Daniel and Bolton:
Thank you for your thought-provoking articles, "The High Cost of Climate Uncertainty“ and "Up in Smoke" in the Spring 2015 Edition of Columbia Business.
My name is William L. (Bill) Robbins, Columbia Business School Class of '88. I reside in Los Angeles, where the weather is great, but the political climate is not to my liking. You see, despite my enlightened, New York upbringing and my advanced education, including my Columbia MBA (Master of Barometric Administration), I am a Conservative Republican. That's right, I am a climate denier, and proud of it.
Forgive my slowness, guys (may I call you “guys”?), but, in your articles in Columbia Business, you write a lot of things about carbon taxes and government energy policy that seem downright antithetical to the principles of American-style capitalism. Am I missing the joke? I mean, you are American business school professors, right? You know, business. As in "free markets." As in "get the government and its socialistic, wealth-transferring, investment-distorting carbon taxes out of our private lives."
Carbon taxes are not a solution to climate uncertainty (a concept which is as old as the weather; ask any farmer). Carbon taxes are an alluring revenue source for socialist-minded governments (including ours, sadly) that will never, ever have enough of other people's money to spend.
On the other hand, if what you really espouse is the creation of some sort of shady, climate-based derivatives market, where people make or lose money forecasting peak high tides and beach erosion in the Hamptons 50 years from now, well, more power to you. That would be American-style capitalism.
William L. (Bill) Robbins, MBA '88