A Non-Political Rambling Blog Entry About Politics, Carbon Tax and Overconsumption

Posted: November 26, 2012 in open, philosophy, think about it, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Disclaimer: I am not a political person nor do I claim to know much about politics. 

 

Recently I’ve been besieged by a radio ad, it seems every time I get in my car and turn on the radio, I hear this ad. It’s a political ad stating that if “so and so” gets elected as the new leader of the NDP (new democratic party) he will impose a carbon tax on almost all goods and services, in turn, making everything you buy go up in price. The ad also states that if this new tax was instated gas would go up a WHOPPING ten cents a litre. The ad is basically encouraging people not to vote for this “so and so” person in fear of this tax being created. (as you can see this entry is not about who is running for the NDP or who is running against the NDP)

 

I have a serious problem with this ad, I feel like it is mocking me, as if I don’t know that a carbon tax will make prices go up. Isn’t that the point of the tax? To make goods and services go up in price in hopes to curb our consumption, helping us use less, consume less and lower each persons individual carbon footprint ( or maybe I have the wrong definition of carbon tax). For instance, if this tax was created and gas went up ten cents and tax on my car went up as well maybe I would consider buying a new electric car avoiding both the carbon tax and the gas price increase. Or maybe I would stop buying bottled drinks, or buy more fresh products instead ones wrap in layers of plastic and cardboard that were no doubt produced in a huge factory that creates mass amounts of pollution.

 

I think this tax is logical and rational, people don’t seem understand how much useless production and consumption goes on in the world. Maybe having a tax that directly responds to these excesses would help people see that we really don’t NEED to use and produce as much as we do. What we NEED is clean air, clean water, and clean food. Realistically, everything else is a want and just because you want something doesn’t mean you need it. It seems today that people have lost sight of this, suddenly our wants have become our needs and our needs have become something we waste and destroy with our wants. We destroy our clean air, our clean water, our clean food but polluting all three with the materials and by products of our wants and then we create more products to help re-purify these needs in turn creating more waste and pollution. It really is a vicious cycle when you take the time to think about it.

 

That being said I am guilty of all of these things, I drive a gasoline powered car, I take long showers, I buy what I don’t need, I give into my wants daily. I think the difference between me and others maybe that I understand this is not a healthy way to live. I do try to do my part and make up for my discrepancies, but I know I need to do more. What’s upsetting to me is to hear this ad on the radio and know this person/group/political party is trying to encourage people not to think about our overconsumption, to try to make it seem like this “so and so” person is creating this tax simply to make things more expensive for us all.

 

In closing this rambling blog entry I want to state that I do not claim to have the answers to our over consumption problem, in fact, I don’t have answers for anything, I simply ask questions and hope it sparks questioning in others and in their questioning maybe they can find the answers.

 

Peace and Love and Carbon

Lindsay

(I realize now this blog really had nothing to do with politics, but I like the title so I’m keeping it!)

If you enjoyed this entry I strongly suggest you read or watch Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and the 2011 documentary Surviving Progress

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Comments
  1. Excellent post, Lindsay. I am always suspicious when government intervenes in our lives – even if it is with the best of intentions. But you are quite correct that we have bought into the “consumerist” mind-set that we have the right to have, to use, to throw away … and to get free – as much “stuff” as we can possibly handle – and then some. If more people realized that each of us does make a difference – whether for good or ill – we would rationally modify our behavior – and there would be no need for another new tax. So keep speaking out. There are some of us who are listening.

  2. Hai says:

    Hi,
    I think the issue of the introduction of the carbon tax goes hand in hand with politics. You can’t talk about one without the other. The true reasoning behind a carbon tax is not to curb excess production but to make firms more accountable for their actions.

    Corporate policy is driven by the need to create value for shareholders. A manager’s fiduciary duty requires him to act in the best interests of his shareholders and this manifests most profoundly in the need to maximise profits. They often do this without social conscience. There are countless examples of firms closing local factories and moving production offshore in an effort to cut costs (for an Australian example see Bonds) without regards to the impact that closure of a facility that employs hundreds, if not thousands of people will have on the local economy. Of course we can’t resent them for these actions. In a capitalist world firms cannot be handcuffed by social responsibility. If they were, you would see all our national firms lose competitiveness and close down, run over by the monstrous economic steam train that China and her lax views of worker’s rights has created.

    You can bet that the national party you quoted knows this too. Big corporate would be behind them, throwing millions behind any party that opposes a cut to their profits. The same thing happened here with the MRRT. Federal government tried to force a tax on Big Mining, and Big Mining responded by launching continuous advertising campaigns that destroyed the popularity of the elected party, directly resulting in our then-PM being ousted. Corporate understands that it’s not the faction in the right that usually gets their way, but the one that complains the loudest.

    I’d argue in it’s current form is rational but not logical. In its purest form a tax on carbon should punish those that pollute excessively for their scope of production, reward those that operate sustainably, and funnel the proceeds collected back into the guaranteed research and development of renewable sources of energy that don’t damage our earth. In it’s current form it fails all three of these criteria.

    First it doesn’t punish big polluters enough. Big business will still pollute, they’ll just pay more for the priviledge. The only way to force them to change would be to make it too painful not to. But as mentioned earlier, to do so would be political suicide. On an individual scale a ten cent per litre increase is not enough to force more people to switch to hybrids or electric powered vehicles. If I had to choose now between a petrol or electric Iknow which I’d be choosing. The petrol is both signiciantly cheaper initially and has lower maintenance costs.

    It’s second failure is that it doesn’t reward businesses that are environmentally conscious enough. A friend’s family’s winery just converted to be 100% self-sustaining. Each year they will receive carbon credits that they can then onsell. Great, but that doesn’t compensate them fully for their initial outlay that it cost to install all those solar panels and convert to energy efficient lighting and cooling. In the mean time federal subsidies for solar hot water systems are being cut back or scrapped, and tariff feed-in rates for self generated power are also getting reduced significantly. This substantially imcreases the payback period on these systems and often makes them unviable.

    Finally, the funds generated by these taxes are not guaranteed to fund our sustainable future. The Australian government promised a similar concept when it introduced a fuel excise. Funds generated would be used to maintain roads and ensure the upgrading of the nation’s transport system. Today those funds are pooled under “General Taxation”, the same funds used to pay for the government’s politically motivated advertisements. History doesn’t lie.

    I am all for making companies more responsible for their actions. But until the world’s leading polluters are legally bound to reduce their emissions nothing will change. Spruiking a carbon tax is just more political posturing, from parties that have no histories of environmental conservatism. It’s all just grandstanding to distract us from the very real problems their incompetent forerunners have left the world with: excessive debt levels and inadequate regulations on financial markets. Until these excess polluters are grounded and put in the naughty corner they will never change their ways.

    Apologies for the typos it’s 2am and I’m on a tablet 🙂

  3. --Rick says:

    Loved the article, Lindsay. It’s comforting to know that people are willing to think about the impact they have on the planet and how individual responsibility can negate a lot of the anthropomorphic environmental damages to earth. As to global warming, climate change factors, carbon credits, etc., I think it is helpful to keep reality in mind. The reality in this area as in many others is that the earth is a living, ever changing organism in space that we use to support life and to eek out ways of providing comfort so that we may live our lives to the fullest. It is the earth’s job to provide resources we can use and our job to find them, exploit them and [I agree with your base premise] to use them judiciously.

    Here is a history of the earth’s shifting temperature covering just the past 450,000 years from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with the following introductory paragraph:

    “Is Climate Change Normal?

    It looks like the climate is continually changing. Are we in a brief warm period now? Will the trend reverse? What’s the long-term picture?

    Here’s a graph of estimated global temperature for the past 425,000 years. This temperature record was computed from analysis of ice cores taken at Vostok, a Russian research base in Antarctica, starting in 1970. The deepest core reached 3,623 m (11,886 ft) into the ice sheet. The ice at the bottom has been undisturbed for about half a million years. During this time there have been four ice ages.”

    Temperature Map

    There are others that go back even longer and they all show the same pattern, Global temperature reading look similar to an EKG with high peaks, low baselines, and a relative steady rhythm between the peaks.

    Map 2

    Map 3 via The Paleomar Project

    Next time you are looking at global warming temperature maps, look closely at how far they go back and compare their starting period with this near complete history of global temperatures by ages.

    One final thing to consider is the overall impact artificially rising prices have on productivity, jobs and the overall national and global economy and who benefits by such policies beyond politics.

  4. Edward Bernays is the father of propaganda and heavily conditioned American culture into over consumption as a means to benefit our economy. I guess it worked too well! He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and used his research to develop propaganda. When propaganda became a “bad” term it was changed to public relations. It is up to individuals to take personal responsibility for their existence or else we will always be treated like children and that just sucks. So, I will be doing my part with self empowerment and trying to avoid all the measures of control that is now required for the masses.

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