Harper: Insane plan will screw us all
Saturday, June 21, 20084 Comments
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
An economist by training, Harper surely understands the responsibility and opportunity presented to the Canadian Government to shape tax policy in such a way as to create the kind of society all Canadians want. He must also understand that the society we want is one that we will not be ashamed of leaving to our children- a society unachievable if carbon emissions continue to rise until at least 2020, as Harper’s intensity-based emissions plan would have them do. As Jeffery Simpson of the Globe and Mail has put it: “The bottom line is that unless you use economic tools to change behavior, nothing serious will get done… economic policies must therefore be introduced and applied to put a price on emissions. Otherwise, we are fooling ourselves, as Canadians have been doing for two decades now.” And likewise, Harper still continues to fool us today.
If we want to continue enjoying the public goods and quality of life we are so fortunate to have in this prosperous country, we have to tax something; having people pay more tax on carbon and less tax on income is simply good policy. It is also a much more just policy, as individuals have to work and earn income to survive, and thus have very little choice in how much they choose to work. In contrast, individuals have a much greater degree of choice when it comes to how much carbon they emit- they can choose to drive more fuel efficient vehicles, for example (or not drive at all), or be more energy conscious at home, by doing things like drying clothes outside instead of using the dryer. By penalizing people less for doing something they have very little choice in- working- and penalizing people more for doing something they have much more choice in- emitting carbon- the Liberal plan works toward our shared goal and necessity of cutting carbon emissions while also lessening the economic straight-jacket that is the income tax. This is exactly the kind of libertarian leaning economic policy the Prime Minister has believed in since his days with the Reform Party. And yet, instead of (for example) simply stealing the framework of the plan and calling it his own, all we as Canadians and voters get from our leader is politically-motivated fear-mongering. Indeed, while Harper puts forth his strongest argument against the plan, emphatically telling us that it would “actually screw everybody across the country,” it is quite apparent that Harper’s populist and partisan refusal to accept the virtues of broad based income tax cuts coupled with a tax on carbon will screw us far more.