Carbon tax flies under the radar

The current leadership contests for the main B.C. political parties are the result of Gordon Campbell’s somewhat inelegant introduction of the HST. B.C. voters across the political spectrum rose as one to protest and oppose the hated “new” tax.

It is so “un-Canadian” to protest taxes. We have become desensitized to the imposition of more confiscatory taxes and fees by our various levels of governments. While local property tax increases usually get the most attention, it is the burden of increasing federal and provincial taxes and fees that negatively impact Canadians’ ability to acquire wealth and pursue their dreams.

As uplifting as the anti-HST movement proved to be, the effort was mis-spent. In reality, the impact of the HST was never really going to raise the cost of goods for most people. We were doomed under either option to pay the GST and PST, or the HST at the current level of 12 per cent. Further, to the chagrin of the anti-HST forces, anecdotal evidence from various businesses seems to support the Liberal’s assertion that business would be better off under the HST than the traditional PST/GST regime.

It is too bad for B.C. that the same level of anger and protest was not and has not been directed at the truly evil carbon tax. A politically motivated money grab from the dark recesses of the Campbell brain-trust, the carbon tax was originally introduced as a way to cut the “green” legs out from under the NDP prior to the last election. It worked. The opposition lost the environment as the one issue upon which they might have been able to attack the Campbell Liberals. It virtually killed the Greens’ chances of having any impact in the few ridings where anyone cares about the party.

Sold as “revenue-neutral”, the carbon tax has proved to be “revenue-negative”, meaning the government is now paying out more to lower-income earners in carbon tax rebates than it collects from every driver, hydro and natural gas customer. More than a blatant and costly wealth redistribution mechanism, the carbon tax also represents an example of astonishingly Orwellian social engineering.

One wonders at what point did we allow government to assume the authority to impose taxes for the purpose of distorting market activity in order to influence taxpayers to behave in a manner deemed appropriate by bureaucrats. Canadian governments derive taxing authority from the people, for the express purpose of providing “peace, order and good government”. It is a long bow to draw to see this carbon tax as meeting that test.

The goal of behaviour modification has not been accomplished, yet. We are still driving our SUVs and heating our homes, and will — to a point. The carbon tax is set to raise the price of a litre of gasoline another six cents in July of this year. Gas and hydro bills will continue to increase as the government further attempts to dictate your activities by pricing carbon.

The world price of carbon, given the collapse of the Chicago Carbon Exchange from lack of interest, and the European carbon markets as a result of rampant fraud, is $0/tonne. Yet the B.C. government’s carbon tax is pricing carbon at nearly $30/tonne. There is no way most B.C. residents can choose not to pay — unless they refuse to drive, heat their homes or cook their food.

No matter how much you reduce these activities, the government will continue to confiscate your money, at inflated rates from which you have no relief or recourse.

The motivation to introduce the carbon tax was purely political. It was conceived at a time when many more people bought the notion that increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 had some impact on global temperature.

The world has experienced cooling over the past 15 years, and as much of the Northern Hemisphere suffers through the third brutally cold winter in a row, science and experience are proving what many thinking people already understood. Changing levels of atmospheric CO2 has little or no impact on global temperatures. Pricing carbon to manage temperature is a scheme of which Bernie Madoff would be proud; the concept of taxing or pricing carbon was developed by the geniuses at Enron.

The carbon tax is immoral in many ways. It supports a purely political agenda. It is designed to influence consumer behaviour to meet a demonstrably false socialist/green agenda. It is uneconomic, and artificially inflates the cost to consumers of required resources. It redistributes wealth and it results in a net cost to all the taxpayers of B.C. It is set to rise, in the absence of any debate or justification.

The way in which Campbell introduced the HST may have been distasteful. The carbon tax is purely offensive. Efforts of repeal and recall have, unfortunately, been off target. Don’t expect any leadership candidates to address this issue — they’re all thrilled you’re concentrating on the HST.

Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.