The Real Human Costs of BC's Regressive Carbon Tax and Some Progressive Solutions

Ever wonder why a neo-liberal right-wing government like Gordon Campbell's would have promoted and passed BC's Carbon Tax? Because, especially as it's currently structured, BC's Carbon Tax is not only regressive ideologically but it's also a direct subsidy to his wealthy supporters. Before explaining just how such a 'motherhood and apple pie' sounding idea is being used as a weapon in the ongoing class war it's important to acknowledge that all of the well-intentioned environmental activists supporting this sham do so outta their genuine motivation to fight CO2 pollution and human induced climate change. Their cause is noble and, as this article will hopefully show, could be advanced by turning the tax's current regressive structure into a vehicle for progressive change.

The Campbell government began it's assault on the common sense arguments against the regressive nature of the carbon tax by assuring BCers that the tax would be 'revenue neutral'. What they weren't forced to explain by the compliant media was the details. What they did say was that they would make it neutral by cutting other taxes, and they did. First they cut corporate taxes and income taxes, both progressive types of taxation, which meant a direct subsidy of the haves by the have-nots. Next, they also instituted a low-income tax credit. Of course, over 20% of BC's population, the truly poor, already earn so little a credit is meaningless.

Not only is using a regressive carbon tax to reduce a progressive taxes deceitful but meanwhile the poor tightened their belts by spending less on other things. They may have spent a few less of their meager monies on heat for their families but they also spent less on food for them, their kids got to participate in less activities, they skimped on prescriptions, they traveled less - including less to the medical clinics and the dentists. The real and immediate effects on the poor are simply costs that will be paid in the future in the form of increased social costs like crime and health care.

It may be that BC's carbon consumption has gone down in recent years because of the carbon tax as proponents say, or maybe they've gone down due to the combination of the poor's belt tightening and the general vice-grip put on all middle class spending in the last 5 years caused the bankster induced worldwide recession. Neo-liberals, like corporations, are real good at putting lipstick on the free-lunch pig, unfortunately to many of us are only to happy to buy their bullshit.

But not all of the revenue generated by BC's Carbon Tax goes to cutting progressive taxes, much of it is given to favoured interests in subsidies as reward for their political support. But none, not one dollar, of the money raised by the tax goes to projects that reduce carbon emissions.

There are other solutions. For instance BC's Carbon Tax applies only to the purchase or use of fuels within the province, when in reality every action, every event, every person everything emits a certain amount of carbon. Check out the website 'How Much CO2 Is Created By…' and you quickly learn that everything has a carbon footpint not just fuels.

Some of the stuff folks consume isn't a necessity, it's a luxury. So one easy way to start turning BC's regressive Carbon Tax progressive is to turn it into a luxury tax. A luxury tax is a tax on non-essential goods, it mainly affects the wealthy because the wealthy are the most likely to buy luxuries such as expensive cars, real estate, jewelry, etc. A luxury tax could be applied only to all purchases over a certain amount or on all items of particular types or both. It's level could be adjusted to be 'revenue neutral' compared to the existing carbon tax.

Additionally, the revenue generated by a luxury tax could be directed by law into research on alternative energy solutions to our obscene use of the biosphere as a dumping ground for our waste. Surely there's alotta folks in BC and beyond who've already conjured up many more excellent progressive solutions. Personally though simply understanding the emotional cost of a deceitful, regressive tax like BC's Carbon Tax on the poorest among us seems ample motivation to use our capacity for compassion and empathy as the leverage to a progressive solution.

As H.L. Mencken once wrote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”