Carbon tax flim-flam


Carbon tax flim-flam

Terence Corcoran, Financial Post  Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mark Jaccard’s one-man crusade to hook Canada up to a monster new global warming policy nightmare popped up again yesterday. This time he emerged in Ottawa with David Suzuki at a news conference that offered Canadians an economic miracle: Big new carbon taxes, lower income taxes, reduced carbon emissions, more government revenue, and a growing economy.

The all-in-one package is in a report by Prof. Jaccard, of Simon Fraser University, for the David Suzuki Foundation. Titled Pricing Carbon: Saving Green, the report ran through some economic modelling exercises to see what might happen if Canada were to impose a tax on all carbon emissions of between $75 and $200 a tonne by 2020. Before any government gets to assessing the report — which doesn’t mention that a $200-a-tonne tax would raise the price of gasoline by about 50% to $1.60 a litre; nor does it do much to highlight the $45-billion in annual lost growth by 2020 — we suggest a tracking device be attached to Mr. Jaccard to monitor his role in the rise of carbon tax on the Canadian agenda.

When B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor’s budget last week announced a version of a carbon tax, Mr. Jaccard and his private research company, M.K. Jaccard and Associates, were the only authorities named. The B.C. plan, moreover, contained all the propaganda tricks Mr. Jaccard raised in the Suzuki version. The tax would raise billions, but voters should not worry because it would be “revenue neutral” and would be “recycled” back in tax cuts or direct payments. As a marketing ploy, the B.C. government said it would immediately send out $440-million in Carbon Tax Credit cheques to citizens, before the carbon tax was even imposed.

In his Suzuki report, Mr. Jaccard begins with a pithy epigraph: “The atmosphere can no longer be considered a carbon dump.” Turns out Mr. Jaccard is quoting himself and his coauthors, including one Jeffrey Simpson, from their book Hot Air. While short and emphatic, the quote is also pure rhetoric unhindered by fact. The atmosphere will continue to used as a dump so long as humans are allowed to exist.

Then the Suzuki report says that “several recent studies” show that a price on carbon is the best way to cut carbon emissions. Of two studies cited, one is from Mr. Jaccard. Reference is later made to recent carbon-tax research by the National Round Table on the Environment — research Mr. Jaccard had a hand in.

The progress of the carbon tax idea to yesterday, including the joint conference with Mr. Suzuki and the B.C. budget carbon tax gimmick, shows Mr. Jaccard has a way with policy makers, politicians and activists. So far he’s made no headway with the Harper Tories or Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, whose budget today was clearly the focal point behind the timing of these events.

The Jaccard carbon tax studies are gigantic exercises in economic modelling. Using models Mr. Jaccard controls, the study asks what would happen to the economy 12 years from now under different levels of carbon taxation and methods of government disposal of the cash raised. If the tax were $100 a tonne, governments would raise $62.5-billion; at $200, the tax take is $100-billion a year — three times what the government collected last year in GST. That would be bad for the economy, depending on how the government spent it. It would reduce carbon-based energy consumption, hurting growth. But if the government took that money and “recycled” it back into the economy in beneficial ways, the bad impact of the tax would be neutralized.

Well, not quite. Even Mr. Jaccard’s black box couldn’t come up with that much of a miracle. Different things happen, depending on the policy. If the government used 14% of the carbon tax money to subsidize green energy and carbon capture technology, gave 40% to industry and used the remaining 46% to reduce payroll or income or other taxes, then there might be offsetting benefits. But not enough to offset the losses from the tax, which would still leave the economy in the red by upwards of $45-billion a year, a figure that increases annually with the loss of compounding growth.

The Suzuki report spends a lot of time ventilating the idea that there might be a “double dividend” in a carbon tax. Bring in a tax, the government recycles it back to taxpayers, and then everybody collects an environmental dividend. In the end, though, the report concedes (most clearly in a footnote) that there is a growing consensus in economics that the prospect of such a double dividend is “weak.”

The Suzuki-Jaccard study is premised on the theories of Arthur C. Pigou, a 20th-century economist who believed you could use taxes to change behaviour. Mr. Jaccard calls his tax the “Pigovian carbon price.” The trouble with Pigovianism is that it requires revival of the ancient and discredited economic art of central planning, using taxes as substitute for prices. But a tax is not a market price. It’s a bureaucratic planning device–as Mr. Jaccard’s elaborate economic modellings prove. And it’s no way to run a market economy.

 The National Post

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One thought on “Carbon tax flim-flam

  1. The Wind Farm Scam

    Re: Wind Farms. When the wind blows too hard or too little, wind turbines stop spinning. So, there must be idling backup power, waiting to go online. Usually gas turbine power. Secondly, wind is intermittent and unreliable. And there is no way to store the extra electricity generated on windy days or during periods of low electrical demand. Third off wind farms in Germany, England and elsewhere, have proven to be economically impractical. Depending instead, on heavy government subsidies…about $250,000 per wind turbine per year….every year!

    And so, when you see a wheat field in South Dakota with, say, 100 slowly turning wind turbines, you are not looking at Green Energy but instead you are looking out onto $25 million dollars borrowed by the central government to promote this scam each year! Multiply this by the number of wheat fields with wind turbines and you get an idea of the enormity of this brazen flim flam!

    Wind farms and biofuels are being pushed off on the well meaning, yet incredibly naïve taxpayer by an entire army of scam artists. Wind power and renewable alternative fuels are not now, and never will be, economically feasible. Are instead counterproductive! Exist only because of a gullible public. Are contrary to the real energy conservation initiatives such as mass transit, adjustable oil import taxes, safe nuclear power and new pipelines to make natural gas more available. And clean coal (if there ever will be such a thing).

    Wake up America! You are being scammed, again! Just say no to wind farms, biofuels and the flimflam artists and the uninformed bureaucrats that promote them.

    George Meredith MD

    Virginia Beach, Virginia

    George Meredith MD
    1604 Dendron Drive
    Virginia Beach, VA. 23451
    757 428 4873 georgemeredithmd@cox.net

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