12 May 2009

Why I oppose the carbon tax

I'm not a big whiner about taxes. But the carbon tax here in BC is stupid. Remarkably so. So, for the most part, are the supporters of it.

The idea of it was to force consumers to use less gasoline, by making it more expensive. It was supposed to get people to use public transit more, buy more fuel efficient cars, walk, bike, etc.

The reality is that most people, especially poor people, don't have the luxury of buying fuel efficient cars or living close enough to their jobs to walk or bike. Public transit, under the same assholes that instituted the carbon tax, got way more expensive. My husband rides his bike to work (we're lucky to be close enough and for him to be healthy enough to bike 25km a day), but when the weather isn't cooperative, he can't. So we worked it out. At $1/L for gas, it costs FAR more to take the bus. Even with the discount he gets for buying tickets. I know the 'but you have to buy insurance and keep the car maintained' argument, but the fact is, most people do that anyway.

And furthermore, it's not feasible anywhere but in the large cities. And then only ones with good transit. I challenge you to live carless in Calgary for 6 months. Over the winter. Sure, it's *possible*, but so is living on the street. It sucks, and most people won't do it if they have an alternative.

And even if you're lucky enough to live in a city with decent transit, and be on a good route, it's not a reasonable alternative when you have more than one kid. Buses are NOT kid friendly. In fact, in this city, you can be denied access to the bus if you've got a stroller that the driver deems "too big". And that's a one kid stroller. There's no way in hell I could get both of my little kids on the bus at the same time and look after them both safely. One is only 2 months old and needs holding at all times. The other is 3, autistic, and a holy handful.

My 14 year old daughter uses public transit to get to and from school. It blows. It's great in the morning, for the commuters. But after school, there are only buses ever 15 minutes, and they are so crammed full, she usually can't sit down, and is regularly pushed around. This is a bloody annoyance for most people, and most wouldn't put up with it. Public transit SUCKS.

Finally, the carbon tax is not fair to farmers. There are no gas saving alternatives to combines. Cutting down on usage cuts down on profits. The carbon tax took a bite out of their incomes. A bite they couldn't possibly avoid.

One last thing: is there any evidence that fuel usage has dropped since the carbon tax was introduced? I'm looking for any evidence at all.

The carbon tax is a regressive tax.


Chrystal Ocean said...

"The carbon tax here in BC is stupid. Remarkably so. So, for the most part, are the supporters of it."

Great way to alienate people. I support the carbon tax. Only wish it were higher, as gas beeb proposed by the Greens.

I'm amongst the poorest of the poor. So is my blog's co-author, Daphne. Rather than hurting our bottom line, the carbon tax has helped us put more food on our tables than would have been otherwise. Daphne has an old car, which she uses as little as possible - always has, even before the carbon tax. I haven't a car. We both live in the Cowichan Valley, where the public transit, while improved over the past year, remains pretty bad. It wasn't until a year ago that we had Sunday service!

I agree that the carbon tax as it is does little to curb behaviour. It needs to be higher. But that it hurts everyone on low income, well the facts don't support that argument.

Luna said...

First of all, I said, "for the most part". If you're not stupid, it doesn't apply. :)

I don't see how you've countered my argument at all. You've agreed that public transit sucks, and that you drive as little as possible even without a carbon tax.

You don't say *how* this has helped you put more food on your table, or what you've had to sacrifice to do it.

And if you're living in a place where there wasn't sunday service until recently, how did you expect people working shitty jobs to get to work on Sunday?

The the carbon tax would be just fine if people were all able to make these cutbacks, but people who can't are people who are poor. That is not the same as saying it hurts all poor people.

And if the tax were raised, as you propose, then get used to less food on your plate, because food prices, at least prices on locally grown food, will have to rise. In turn, that'll push out local growers because people will buy cheap imported food. And just how good is that for the environment?

Saskboy said...

"There are no gas saving alternatives to combines. "
Stooking ;-)
and I'm only half kidding. Combines are only profitable because there is less competition and cheap oil. Take away cheap oil, and old fashioned, but more sustainable methods will begin to be profitable again. The whole system needs to change before it's forced to by peak oil.