Tuesday February 26, 2008
Carbon tax a money grab in green clothing
BY BILL TIELEMAN
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.