Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just left a bigass comment over to Jennifer Smith's fine boog, Runesmith. She's got a good piece about the Green Shift and it attracted a comment from AGW skeptic and anti-Green Shifter Raphael Alexander. I like ol' Raph. He ain't afraid to wander into the Pergressive Boogeysphere and he don't bow down and worship the infallible King Steve like a lot o' Boogin' Tories do.
Here's how I tried sellin' the carbon tax to Rafe.
Even if you're an AGW skeptic, there are many advantages to the tax shift. GHG's are closely related to other pollutants. When we reduce GHG's we reduce many conventional pollutants at the same time. While you may doubt AGW, I suspect you accept the fact that pollution kills. "Bad air days" in the Great Lakes basin are killing people. The latest estimate of premature deaths due to poor air quality is 9,000+/year. The most conservative estimates put the figure at 3,000. Take your pick. Neither is acceptable.
Regarding the shift away from income tax, this is something most people should welcome. We should try not to penalize success and the less we tax income and profits, the more we encourage entrepreneurship and productivity. Some people call it "takin' care of business and workin' overtime."
With or without a carbon tax, energy costs are rapidly rising. This trend isn't going to reverse itself. Energy costs will rise and our dependence upon fossil fuels will further hurt our economy. Anything we can do to reduce our dependence on expensive fossil fuels will make us more competitive. A carbon tax is specifically aimed at reducing fossil fuel use. Whether that reduction is for the sake of the planet or for the sake of competitiveness and financial efficiency doesn't matter. Reduction of dependence is a worthwhile goal in and of itself.
I don't take much issue with the "tax on everything" characterization. So what? If you can get an offsetting reduced tax on income and the average Canadian is not clobbered with thousands of dollars in new taxes, it really doesn't matter if it is on everything. What matters is how many dollars you pay and how many dollars you get back via reduced income taxes or, in the case of low income Canadians, refundable tax credits.
The per capita average carbon footprint for Canadians is between 15-18 tonnes per year. If we are to pay $10/tonne, the average Canadian's net share would be about $200-$250 after some administrative and overhead costs are added.
Almost everyone can reduce their carbon footprint and, by doing so, reduce both their taxes and their outlay on fossil fuels. In a relatively fair system, those who use more than average fossil fuel will pay more tax. Those who use less than average, will pay less. Everyone will pay, though. Nobody denies that.
AGW aside, the planet's in trouble and our taxation system is designed to stifle income. We allow industry to use the shared atmosphere as a dump without any charge to them at all. Oil industry insiders refer to the practice of burning off waste gas at refineries as "sky dumping." Saves money. So what if it pollutes and kills.
Economist after economist is lining up behind a carbon tax. If you believed King Steve on income trusts, then you can believe he won't do exactly as Dion and most economists are suggesting... years from now. It's already too little, too late.