For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Black and white, it ain't.

Wow - what a quiet morning. I've got one daughter still asleep, another who's really tired and not feeling well, so she's lain down for a bit, and I'm sitting here, going through my morning news. A good time to sit down and write!

Part of my morning routine is to visit the editorial and letters to the editor pages in online newspapers across the country. There were a couple of editorials about Dion's proposed carbon tax that caught my attention.

The one from the Winnipeg Sun made more sense to me. Come Clean on Carbon Tax.

To quote parts of this one...

Media reports leaking out of Camp Liberal suggesting this so-called "revenue neutral" tax will bring in up to $17 billion a year, while being offset by $10 to $13 billion in income tax cuts, make us wonder if the Liberals can do math.

Taking up to $17 billion per year from taxpayers via a carbon tax and then giving back only $10 to $13 billion annually in income taxes isn't revenue neutral.


As for Environment Minister John Baird and NDP Leader Jack Layton, who both oppose a carbon tax and insist the best approach is more regulation of carbon-emitting industries, they need to answer this:

How can they prevent these industries from passing along any added costs they will face from increased regulation to consumers?

This seems logical to me. We need to be informed as much as possible as to what and how any proposals will work, and how they will actually help the environment, 'cause quite frankly, I don't see how taxing our "carbon emissions" will actually accomplish anything helpful.

Edmonton Sun columnist, Mindell Jacobs, seems to think it will, though she fails to explain how.

End of Era for Energy Hogs.

The title alone makes her view rather obvious. The entire column had me shaking my head.

According to a recent Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll, 61% of us favour the idea of a carbon tax on businesses and people based on the carbon emissions they generate. Even in redneck Alberta, 65% of those polled gave thumbs up to the idea.

She just couldn't resist throwing in a dig at "redneck Alberta." I've lived in 3 provinces and traveled throughout western Canada. Alberta isn't any more redneck than anywhere else.

When the survey question was phrased a little differently, asking people about an environmental tax refund paid to those who reduce their use of fossil fuels, electricity, water and the amount of garbage they produce, support shot up to 80%.
These two quotes are while I agree with the previously linked editorial. Would people really approve of these taxes if they were fully informed? These are just survey questions. I'm a member of a number of survey panels now, and if there's one thing I find telling about them, it's the lack of choices in the responses, and how loaded the questions sometimes are. After all, who wouldn't enjoy a tax refund, regardless of why?

Jacobs then compares those of us in Canada in the US with Europe. Frankly, I'm tired of these comparisons. Talk about apples and oranges! The countries that make up Europe are smaller, but with much denser populations. The geography is different, and in many places, the infrastructure is based on systems centuries older. I know people traveling Europe who've been able to have breakfast in one country, lunch in a second, and dinner in a third, by car. It took me two days to travel from Vancouver to Halifax by train. By car, it can be done comfortably in 5 days. Three, if you've got 2 drivers and really push it.

North Americans have always had the luxury of being energy hogs without worrying about costs or the planet. Until recently, the cost of driving our gas-guzzling SUVs and heating and lighting our gigantic homes has been only a minor annoyance.
At this point, I'll have to assume that by "North Americans," she means Canada and the US, because somehow, I don't think she's including all 43 North American countries. The only people driving SUVs in Haiti are most likely the aid workers.

Keeping it in just Canada and the US, it's still a generalization. The vast majority of people *don't* live in gigantic houses, and the only place I've ever seen fleets of Smart Cars has been in good ol' redneck Alberta. Oh, and those gigantic houses tend to be new, modern and highly energy efficient, thanks to better materials and construction technology. Particularly in areas like the prairies, where temperature extremes between summer and winter are the norm.

Now that we've been sucker-punched with skyrocketing gasoline prices and heating bills, we're being forced to rethink our lifestyles. And we needn't bother feeling sorry for ourselves. Did we really think we could continue being energy gluttons forever?
Speak for yourself, Ms. Jacobs. Most people I know have never been "energy gluttons" in the first place. Oh, and they're not feeling sorry for themselves. They're frikkin' pissed as seeing more and more of their hard earned cash slipping through their fingers, with no benefit to themselves or their families.

The party's over, folks. Liberal Leader Stephane Dion knows it. That's why he's contemplating a carbon tax on the use of fossil fuels to heat homes or generate electricity.

*snort* Like Dion even knows how the average Canadian lives? They've never had a party in the first place. As to why he's pushing for the carbon tax, I doubt it there's an altruistic motive involved, anywhere.

It's Jacobs' conclusion that really has me shaking my head, though...

There's nothing like a hit to the wallet to change behaviour. Canadians have two choices. We can support a carbon tax, which will save us money down the road and help the planet. Or we can just cry while our energy costs continue to soar and the environment withers.

Just two choices, huh? Apparently, if we don't accept a carbon tax, the environment will "wither." Now there's a grand illusion! Believe it or not, there are far more efficient ways to help the environment that doesn't involve taxing us to death. A carbon tax will do nothing to help the environment. It won't be "revenue neutral."

I sometimes think the real goal for proposals like this is to make everyone equally poor - except, of course, for the social elite, like Dion himself.

Bah. If things are starting to seem disjointed, I apologize. It's getting very hard to concentrate. Things may have started out quietly, with my own kids asleep, but the baby upstairs started screaming again (I'm starting to really worry about that kid!), and now there's loud salsa music playing. Not that I'm complaining, really. It's been worse. At least I'm not having to call the police over domestic violence again.

Hey, Suzuki - you want everyone living in apartments, do you? I'll trade places with you for a month. See how you like it.

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