Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't Tax Me, Bro!

I support a carbon tax in theory. I know, I have railed against taxes of all kinds in the past, but the fundamental idea of using taxing powers to change habits is something I support - best way to change people's behaviour. No one does something "because its the right thing to do."

I think putting a cost on pollution or even just carbon is not a bad thing in and of itself, just like charging people $5.00 per emergency visit isn't bad either. It will start to change how people use finite resources, in this case carbon-based fuels.


I do not support the Liberal Party's carbox tax measures for a number of reasons.

Firstly, and most basically, the charge itself is too high. Many experts say that the maximum rate to charge per tonne of carbon is $14.00. As leading envirnomental economistand author Bjorn Lomborg states in his book "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming": "...the damage we will cause by putting out one more ton of CO2 is likely two dollars and very unlikely to be higher than fourteen dollars." This estimate is based on the best economic models available by international reserarch, which Lomborg cites in his book.

The Liberal Carbon Tax starts at $10 and goes to $40 over a longer period. So, already, we are being charged 5 times over the (supposed) damage we are causing to the environment by charging $10.00 per tonne rather than $2.00. Not a good start, but a typical reaction to a problem: overtax the unwashed masses to solve a problem we can't say for certain exists (not global warming per se, but if we can solve the problem and/or how).

But again, I don't think trying to force people to be smart about how they use energy is a bad thing.

My second problem is that if you want to change behaviour, you need to give people somewhere to go. As it stands now, there is no real alternative to what we're all doing now - especially when it comes to driving. I'll give you an example: let's say the Carbox Tax is $1,000/tonne - some number so high that make driving impossible. Then what do I do? Where I live, the public transit sucks. I'd have to get up at 4am to grab a bus to get into work on time (assuming I could pay the fare for the busses and trains which would be extremely expensive after the tax or the retrofit costs). So, now I'm working and commuting longer, which means less time with family and a continued cost for me.

Anyone who promotes a carbon tax needs to start creating the systems necessary for people t change their behavious with minimal disruption. In the case of the car, that means massive investments in transit infrastructure, R&D for new fuel technologies and the like. I don;t see the Liberals talking about doing that. Right now its "tax now, cry later."

And that's fine that the Carbon Tax is "revenue neutral" (which I don't believe, but lets assume that the numbers are correct), but how does that help move us forward? We get more money to spend on things that are now more expensive because of your policy actions? You want me to use the reduced taxes to pay for heating oil or gas in my car? How does that make any sense at all if the purpose is to change my behaviour?

You know what? I'd rather the $14 Billion (which ain't that much, folks) or whatever they say they are raising goes DIRECTLY to projects that will make my life easier: more rail lines, new subway lines, more efficient cars, cheaper wind and solar power, or whatever. To make these kinds of investments, you will need to pool the funds. Period.

I think this is another GST - its a permanent tax that will give the government more money to waste on projects they think are important: human rights commissions, injection sites and more aid for other countries. Or like gas taxes, where we cringe while we pump, but we still fill up.

Unless this new revenue goes DIRECTLY to the kinds of projects I mentioned, we will be paying more and getting a lot less.

What if I don't agree on what the "right thing to do" is? (I know, rhetorical question, you'll just petition the government to force me to do it your way.)
Whatdaya mean, Ray? As in, the right thing to do in where your money is spent, or the right thing to do as far as the carbon tax in concerned?
I mean where my money is spent.
Well, I guess you'd like the Lib plan to give it back to you in the form of income tax cuts, or so tey say.

I'm all for tax cuts, but again - nothing will ever change if they do that. It will just get more expensive.
No, I was only commenting on your support of "changing people's behavior".

The whole asinine carbon tax is inevitable anyway. It's only purpose is to implement a new tax stream, any minor changes to other streams can be readjusted in the future by anyone with a "mandate".
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