Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BC Liberals "carbon tax" is really a gas tax gouging that's hardly neutral to ordinary BCers

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday February 26, 2008

Carbon tax a money grab in green clothing


To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: It is plunder.

- former British PM Benjamin Disraeli

With the B.C. government's introduction last week of a "carbon tax" on gasoline, you have two dramatically different choices on what to believe:

1. The gasoline tax starting at 2.4 cents a litre in July and rising to 7.2 cents in 2012 is revenue neutral and will help reduce consumption, leading to a reduction in the greenhouse gases that create climate change while funding other worthwhile initiatives to save our environment.

And the one-time $100 "Climate Action Dividend" cheque that you will get in June with Premier Gordon Campbell's signature on it more than covers your additional gas costs for the next year.

Or 2. The gasoline tax is an expensive publicity stunt that will cost you not only at the pumps but on B.C. Ferries, with air travel and transportation shipping fees, and will have a multitude of other extra expenses - without reducing consumption at all.

The $100 cheque is simply a bribe to make you forget you are being hosed as the government adds $1.8 billion in revenue to its coffers while it gives huge tax breaks to banks and businesses. And don't forget it is creating expensive new bureaucracies that won't likely save a single polar bear from global warming.

Put me down squarely for the second explanation.

Here's why: When you take the $1.8 billion to be generated over three years from the allegedly neutral carbon tax and follow the money trail, it pays for tax breaks that go to the B.C. Liberals' business supporters.

A full $415 million goes to cutting the corporate income tax rate from 12 per cent to 10 per cent by 2011.

Another $255 million is the cost of reducing the small business tax from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2011.

And then banks and financial institutions get a $220-million tax break because the corporate capital tax will be eliminated.

These business tax cuts more than dwarf the $440 million cost of the "Climate Action Dividend" every British Columbian will receive just once. And they go on indefinitely.

What's more, if the idea is to reduce gas consumption, how does subsidizing the full cost of more expensive gas lead to less driving?

And how does it possibly cut greenhouse gases for the vast majority of people who simply cannot reduce their driving to and from work, or who drive vehicles to make a living?

After all, gas prices have gone up 40 cents a litre in the past four years in B.C. - has that cut down driving and pollution? No.

So when you head to the pumps remember whose hand is in your pocket.


Budd Campbell said...

According to Statistics Canada, gasoline consumption has declined as prices have risen:

"Gross sales of gasoline, which consist of all grades of gasoline including fuel used for farming, construction or other off-road uses, reached 39.7 billion litres in 2006, down 0.3% from the previous year. The decrease in 2006 follows a 0.9% decline in 2005. The volume of gasoline sold increased 5.3% during the three years from 2001 to 2004."


Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Budd - but the evidence isn't that conclusive.

Stats Can also says gross sales of motor vehicle fuel in Canada in 2002 were 39,205,669 thousand litres.

Gross sales in 2006 were 39,679,982 thousand litres, an INCREASE of over 474,000 thousand litres.

To be fair, StatsCan says BC saw a very, very small decline during that time but the overall trend is up for Canada, not down.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing but a tax grab wrapped in green clothing. This government knows nothing about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, only how to transfer responsiblity from businesses to individuals. Campbell and his team continue to demonstrate a total lack of imagination by implementing this tax. Personally, the only way around this tax is to spend less on goods and services and more on fuel. This group of Liberals really are the worse government this province has ever seen.

DL said...

Not wishing to get behind in the prices, our local gas stations in Victoria raised their prices a couple of days after the budget, by 6 cents a litre, same time the world cost of oil went down a few cents. Regular gas is now 113.9 and the green team hasn't even got going yet.

Anonymous said...

"...tax breaks that go to the B.C. Liberals' business supporters."

"$255 million is the cost of reducing the small business tax from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2011."

Hasn't the reduction of small business tax also always been part of New Democrat policy?

"And then banks and financial institutions get a $220-million tax break because the corporate capital tax will be eliminated."

But won't that also help out BC Credit Unions, with 1.6 million in members and $42 billion in assets?

Or am I missing something?

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, my real point is that consumption hasn't risen in 2005 and 2006, despite an economy running flat out. Normally this stage of the business cycle would be associated with sharply rising gas consumption.

G West said...

y'know budd, I hate to mention it here but there's another little item you haven't considered that could very easily explain the immaterial change in the amount of fuels used - the rising Canadian dollar relative to the US greenback.

Have you any idea how much cross-border trips and purchases have gone up in the last couple years.

You might want to check it out - a lot more Canucks have been filling up in the US while they visit the factor outlet stores.

Of course I can't prove that's the case...but I'll bet it is a significant factor.

All the people who claim that increses in the price of tobacco has curbed smoking behavior forget that most of the big smoking generation conveniently died and stopped puffing.

Budd Campbell said...

You're right G West, the rising exchange rate could be another factor impacting on Canadian fuel sales. However, these fuel sales data are for 2006 and years prior, and the exchange rate didn't really take off till late in that period.

Anonymous said...

I know the US could not afford this travisty at the pump right now, no matter how enviornmental friendly we may need to be.

Ron said...

I believe the BC Liberals are using the gas tax and this new 10 point scheme to give their cronies in big business a big payout before they give up the legislature in the next election. The economy is going in the dumps, Campbell's buddies can sit on their piles of dough that were given to them, hidden in the 10 points on October 22, 2008, and wait while the NDP struggles with the world market and the rising unemployment and distress that ordinary working class people will endure. And all while riding up to Whistler in their SUV's, not paying for a toll and selling the properties that they accumulated before building the Sea to Sky Highway.
People will get sick of the shitty economy and the Liberals will come riding in to save the day and then, in turn, rape us as the economy gets better, just like this last time, and governments before.
I have to admit that the Liberals aren't a stupid bunch, but how many peons like me see through this scam. I'm 50-ish and have seen this perpetrated by big business in provincial and federal politics too many times to believe in democracy anymore. The dollar bill rules the world unless ordinary people get it together and revolt.
And the payoff to Quebec, and the East Coast Provinces every time just astounds me.
The media just panders to this, even though they will never admit it. They wouldn't have anything to report about (or Vaughn Palmer wouldn't have a show on Shaw), if this was brought to the fore.
Make sure governments change the rules on what they promise in campaigns, with libel laws and impeachment if they go back on their word (with jail time along with white collar criminals), for any broken promise that does not come to fruition. (Citizens may forgive a politician if something happens out of their control that makes their promise moot). This is the only way to repair the dysfunctional parade that is the government nowadays.
Proportional representation!!!!
Viva la Revolution!!!!

Bruce said...

Government intervention - not market forces - ended slavery centuries before market forces would have.

Government intervention - not market forces - gave women the vote decades before market forces would have.

Government intervention - not market forces - banned lead from childen's toys, places restrictions on guns in this country, limits smoking in public places and has abolished capital punishment.

Government intervention - not market forces – through regulation, could have prevented the collapse of the derivatives market in the US and the subsequent meltdown in the liquidity markets where hard working people have seen their investments, life savings and retirement funds eroded to the point where retirement may no longer be possible. “Market Forces”, even now through the unanimous admissions of the staunchest of US advocates of such, Greenspan, Levitt and Rubin, are what got us into this economic problem.

It is the bravery and leadership of Government intervention - not market forces – that is needed to lead the way to radically changing social patterns and limiting, if not hopefully someday reversing, the devastating effects that global warming is having upon our province, country and planet. Stephen, I agree with you that consumers needed to be given an incentive to change their behaviour. Unfortunately, we may not have the leisure or abundance of time to simply sit back and allow market forces to gradually determine the radically needed fundamental change in social patterns and attitudes. This is where government's can, and must, provide leadership and act - and taxation policy is an excellent and responsible avenue to do so.

I am so deeply disappointed and personally ashamed with Carole James’ continued public call to end the carbon tax. Perhaps she is indifferent on the issue of climate change and the heritage that our generation will leave for the next – and how many, perhaps limited, generations beyond that. Perhaps she is just desperately seeking to score political advantage. Perhaps it is the fundamental mechanics of the carbon tax that she cannot somehow comprehend. For somebody who seeks to become Premier of this Province however, I find that hard to believe – or perhaps just convenient perhaps. Please allow me to demonstrate for Carole how the carbon tax works in the most admittedly grossly, overly-simplified terms possible that will allow her to perhaps somehow grasp the concept. Please think in terms of a carbon tax of $5/litre - period. That’s it – that’s all. Yes, I said a $5/litre tax – revenue-neutral of course through offsetting tax policy (or dividend cheque – whatever) allowing you to do such things as install solar power or thermal power and other programs – or even put it back in your tank if you want or have to, the former making much more financial sense for most people though as the savings will be sustainable and perpetuating – and socially responsible. Just stop and think about that for a minute. What impact would that have on you personally? How would it change your thinking and your habits? I would suggest profoundly. Think about how patterns of transportation and human behavior would be profoundly altered with $6/litre gas. At its absolute broadest and most illustrative, that is how the carbon tax works Carole. Public transportation would be grossly advantageous. Needless miles driven would be eliminated. Electric vehicles would not only be viable but cheaper. Solar power would be financially feasible. Locally grown food would be much cheaper. And so on. Think on it for a while.

We are living in a world where market forces have been long subsidized by cheap oil without the environmental cost ever being factored into that equation. Who knew? We eat cheap food from all over the world and think nothing of it as trucks clog our freeways and choke our skies to bring us cheap oranges from Florida, cheap bananas from Bolivia and cheap cameras and watches from China - only to throw them away after two years and then buy another because they broke and it is just cheaper to buy a new one. Market forces my ass. It is time that we begin to measure that environmental cost and factor it in. Simply allowing market forces to do so may take decades or centuries, if ever. And even then, there will always be some that will be unwilling to change and adapt, and will simply get a free, subsidized ride, the only cost being upon their conscience. Governments need to step in and take the lead – and act now.

Carole James thinking unfortunately represent the same thinking as my father who got into a huge fight with me because he insisted on his plastic bag at the Home Depot to take home his box of screws – the same box of screws that he just spent 15 minutes carrying around the store but could not carry them another 30 seconds to the car – because that is the way he has always done it and it is simply “inconvenient” to change. Damned if he was going to change – not even one plastic bag could he sacrifice! People like that (and there are lots of them like my Dad and Carole James) will not change unless they are forced to. The assertion that this goes against personal freedom and market forces is the same thinking that Greenspan, Levitt and Rubin espoused a decade ago on US Derivatives that has landed us in the financial mess we find ourselves currently. To a man, they all admit now that they were wrong. When is your turn coming Carole – when we are spending our holidays basking on the warm, sandy beaches of the Beaufort Sea?

Many assert that the Federal Liberals lost the election because of the carbon tax. I think that is just plain wrong – if not damaging and destructive for those seeking fundamental environmental change and political leadership. Speaking with family and friends who did not vote Liberal, most of the reason was that they are sick of the old boys, centralist, scandal plagued, self-entitled, left wing, Liberal cronies that are interested only in preserving power over serving their country. The carbon tax and the apparent sincere integrity of Stephane Dion seemed to be amongst the only reasons to consider putting an X beside a Liberal at the ballot box – but far from enough.

The last person I read of so espousing the supposed myth of global warming and thus negating the call for needed change, was Michael Chernoff of the Chernoff Family Foundation – who spent their tax free dollars distributing the movie entitled “The Great Global Warming Swindle” to school children. What a noble cause to which to dedicate one’s life and establish one’s legacy. It turns out though that Mr. Chernoff was also a director of Encana, the largest oil and gas producer in Canada and, accordingly, owned 1,539,540 shares and 32,179 deferred share units in such. Accordingly, I wonder aloud what is in Carole James’ “political portfolio” that would so encourage her repeated calls for the elimination of the carbon tax – especially now with oil at $65/barrel.

My wife says that we all have choices of either contributing to or contaminating society. Where does the BC NDP stand with their call to abort the carbon tax? My wife also says that sticking your head in the sand is a good way to get our collective asses kicked. My wife is a very smart person. The province, if not the world, is desperately looking for leadership at this critical juncture in our history. I sincerely hope we are blessed with the political leadership and the collective will to make the courageous changes and sacrifices needed ahead.

bravenight said...

the only way to reduce emissions, is to have OUR goverment force the auto makers to produce a car/truck that is awsome on fuel or that consumes little to none, I really dont care if exxon or opec doesnt like the idea that we dont use as much, they have made trillions and if they cant handle that then maybe they need to be replaced.

our goverments taxing us with a carbon tax is crap,it doenst solve the problem and it sure doesnt even give any sort of a solution. it only creats a cash cow for gordon and the rest of his morons to give them selfs a pay rais, As far as im concerned they are put in power to serve us , and to do things in the publics interest, not in the interest of GE or petro or braber equipment or john deer or esso you get the drift. this carbon tax neteral thing is not in the publics interst.

SO if gordo and the rest of the goons in there cant live off 30,000 a year, no thats not a typo, 30 grand a year , then they need to get out there and get a second or third job, have you seen the suits/tuxts those clowns are wearing. un aceptable.
gordo isnt suposed to be driving if you rember, but he has a toyota hybird and he uses it every day. hmm
now for me and ,maney others, I live up north where it gets cold out, and in order for me to get to work i am lucky to beable to drive 15 km or less, and when i do , im happy to do so. but thats verry rare, so now when i drive to work id love to take a toyota pick up 4x4 but i cant because the toyota just isnt built to have a welder put on it and drive 200 km one way in the -25 weather. ive tried it and it didnt last long. so i have to drive my ford diesel, to which used to get better fuel milage with the low sulfar diesel but we will get to that in a bit. so that means i have to use a bigger engine vehicle to get me to work so that will mean i will consume mroe fuel to do so.
Now gordon cambles thinking is great if we had the infastructure to do this, but the money that he has given to corperations and him self and the rest of the morons , could have been used to build a sky train that runs from prince george to vancover to vancouver island and all over there.You tell me why a stapler cost $300.00 when i can buy one at a dollar store for a bucka nd it does just as fine?
so if we had a transite system that was set up proper then i can preaty much gurantee millions or pepole would use the transite system if it was set up proper and didnt diddle around, and was on time.
I know when i go down to abbotsofrd and i need to get around town there is no way i can rely on the bus there, and if i need to get to richmond im better off to drive then wait for a bus to take me to the grey hound which in return take 8 hrs to get out there beacuse it stops off every where.
so this carbon tax is a joke, if we are going to do this green shift then we need to acually do some green shifting and none of this oh this looks green and it sure lines my pockets. carbon tax

i once wrotye into icbc about a way for speeding to be stopped and drinking and driving to be rid of, every new vehicle should have a computer system in it and this system has sensors that cant be tamperd with to start off with,and every road has strips in them,the vehicle drives over these strips,gets a reading send to the computer and that tells the engine what to do, speed up slow down or stop, if the vehicle crosses the center line it tells the on comming vehicle to stop, or if some one is stoped int he middle of the road it tells it to slow down or stop. all speed strips have a speed programed in them which tells the vehicle passing over what speed to do, and you cant go any faster, you may have amanual over ride but that only gets you 5 km faster. and so on, there is too much to ad, icbc wrote back to me that they cant do this or it cant be done because it imposes on a persons rights or soemthing id have to pull the email up, but this goes to show that we have the ideas and the technology to do things, but our goverment doesnt want us to do so or to even move ahead because then they cant line there pockets, this olympics, the goverment is suposed to be doing things in the publics best interest, so we should have voted on it, instead of them bidding on it, the olympics hasnt created any more jobs, why i say this, its a major poluter for one, but the ecconomie was on a uprise , and the camble goverment was in tehre at the right time . so if it were the ndp or green party they would have been in the same spot and looked good, they camble goverment really hasnt shown any green movment. just green linning of his pocket.

so if we are to go green force ford gm and crysler dominium, to produce a car to get 100km or more to a litter of gas or 200 km of diesel fuel. and a truck that is full size diesel to get 75 km per litter of fuel and a gas engine to the same or more, or even better then that..

now the diesel coment earlier. I own a ford power stroke, its second generation power stroke.
the motor is designed for low sulfar diesel to thos who dont know that is 500 parts per million. so my truck to drive down from prince george to vancouver is about 750 800km i when we had the low sulfar diesel could get 1227km per tank our wonderful goverment has this bright idea of going green, thats ok, so we now are forced to use a aperantly it cost more to refine to get it to be a ulta low sulfar diesel so that means its now a 15 parts per million, so in order to get the fuel dopwn to that you have to produce more carbon to remove the sulfar. ok
so now i fill my truck up and ill do tha same drive to the coast with ulta low sulfar (uls) diesel , my milage has droped in half. so you tell me how this is better for our inviroment? i now consume more so that means more is needed to pulled out of the ground doulbe, and so now doulbe the
carbon is used to produce it, and then i burn double then what i used to?

diesel is cleaner then gasoline. providing a persons engine is kept up in good running order.
the black stuff a person used to see pouring out of a diesel rig is unburnt fuel a waste.but a proper running diesel engine you can stick your nose to it and inhail and be fine now do that to a gass engine. make sure you have oxygen near by and some one to catch you when you faint, i dont recomend to do so but just a point.
so how is that going greener? so in my point of veiw the goverment shouldbe forcing the car manufacturers to produe and engine that runs off the low sulfar to no sulfar fuel, and put them out there, and to also make sure that that vehicle is afordable not this 75,000 junk. but in the mean time they should still have both fuels out there for pepole like me who have a diesel engine that is old technology, and in a resonable time frame, phase out all older vehicles, and make it so pepole have a insentave to upgrade toa cleaner more effeciant vehicle.
car's and trucks our are lives, with out them these days pepole wont function, yes there is a certain bunch who dont need a car or truck to get around because they have aawsome transite system, but id say more then half have to have there own transpertation. i need a truck to haul a welder, a truck driver needs his semmi to haul vegitables and fruit to the market, but tom who is a computer tec needs his peddle bike to get him to the sy train to get to west van.

now that said, the price of fuel up here in pg does not need to be 1.27 per litter for diesel when i can get the same fuel at .98cents in abbotsford.
or even better i can get it from sumas for even cheeper.

what id like to see is a system that works, and gordon and his morons have a huge wage cut and they come to reality, and there pensions are the same as you or me,m where we have to put in 2,000 a year if we can if we cant then its what ever we can, and our medcle and dentale with eye care be put how its suposed to be not this two tear crap.....

but a change is needed and thats a fact. there is no such thing as a shortage of fossile fuels, canada alone has enough fossle fuel to suport its self for the next 300years, coal can be made into a clean burning diesel.
crude oil can be made out of the tar sands in bc alberta and saskatchewan.
oil can be pumped out of the ground from almost every province in canada, includint the territories
every tree should be kept in canada and if things are needed to be made then We make them instead of shipping the raw logs off to china japan ect.
things need to change and the goverment has to foce the companeys to do so instead of giving them tax breaks so they then caugh up the dogh so gordo and the rest of his goons can have a nice holiday or have a huge money pot to put on a election.
gorodo has to stop doing things behind the publics back , and HAS TO STOP SELLING our natural resorces.

CANADA BC can lead the rest of the world, but the goverment needs to let the technolgy out to be used, and stop saying the public isnt ready for this.

if the goverment doesnt to what in our best interest then we have to elect a new person, and if that person still doesnt listen then we must take them out and put some one in and if we have to keep on doing this until they get the hint to do whats in OUR best interst not theres then thats what we have to do and we must start on this NOW. goro has sold preaty much all of bc to the us so he and the rest of the goons can profit