Green taxes are being used by the government to raise revenues, rather than tackle climate change; are bad news for consumers and are socially unjust. These are the conclusions of the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA), a right wing lobby group dedicated to a low-tax society. The TPA says that it has taken at face value the current …
Two different issues
There are two different issues here, and they are being confused by our government, by pretty much every other government that has an interest in raising taxes, and (it would seem) by the TPA.
I completely and utterly agree that the "green" idea is being used in a horribly distorted way as an excuse to raise taxes. If a government wants to raise taxes, they should at least be honest about it and not pretend that it's something it's not, which is what is happening at the moment.
The other issue though is the bazaar idea that moving money about (taxes or otherwise) has anything at all to do with climate change or any other "green" issue. Nobody has ever properly explained how handing over some of your hard-earned cash to someone else will somehow magically solve [insert "green" issue here]. It won't! The only way to solve a particular environmental problem is to stop doing whatever it is you are presently doing to cause it.
It's like adding a "green" tax to flights. I want to fly from A to B. The government in its infinite greediness says that I must give it (I dunno, say) £20 for the privilege. I find this annoying, but in the end I pay my 20 quid and off I fly. How exactly has that £20 contributed in any way whatsoever in undoing / preventing the environmental damage that my flight has caused? In round figures? And it's not deterred me from flying, because I NEED/WANT to fly from A to B. Charging be an extra £20 won't make a bean of difference.
And then you have "carbon trading" agreements. An utterly ludicrous idea which basically comes down to Rich Country wants to carry on making itself richer so it offers to give Poor Country £lots. This allows Rich Country to carry on polluting in exchange for Poor Country agreeing not to pollute. Ok, so we've moved some money from one bank account to another. So the net reduction of pollution is ...errrr ...nothing. Brilliant! Exactly how does this mitigate any environmental impact that Rich Country is making? In round figures? Maybe by reducing the power requirements of the bank's computer in Rich Country? Well, it's not got as much to think about now, has it?
It's a joke of Dr. Strangelove proportions, except it scarier.
What we need is tax simplification, income, consumption and a few sumptuary taxes. If a chancellor is not managing his finances or wishes to raise funds he should do it directly rather than trying to sneak them through the back door
This is why we're cynical about new "green" taxes
If the government ever decide to push schemes such as "pay as you throw", then I seriously doubt they'd reduce the council tax for which part of it funds waste collection and disposal. Chances are the council taxes will increase as usual and we'll end up paying extra for waste collection.
Personally I have no faith in the government in introducing any green schemes. I wouldn't mind a green tax if certain parts of my lifestyle are harmful for the environment - however I'd expect any funds generated from it to help more environmentally friendly alternatives, possibly even heavily subsidising the green alternative. All we see are extra taxes which are supposedly going to help us cut down our usage of harmful things, yet most of us just live with it and pay that little bit extra.
The Tax Payers Alliance
One of the three people running the 'Tax Payers Alliance' works for an oil company (http://tpa.typepad.com/about/2007/08/florence-heath.html)
Call me cynical, but I don't think this is completely irrelevant to their 'findings'.
If the Govt was serious ...
... it would /insist/ on thermal efficiency, solar-boosted water heating (and not the super expensive vacuum tube designs) and rainwater collection for all of its envisaged new housing.
No ? Thought not.
I agree with Rich
Although he missed the concept of tax as a deterrent but that would presuppose the govt was willing to set the tax at the appropriate level.
Nope, the only way to do this is work out how many tonnes of CO2 (and equivalents) are emittable without causing dangerous climate change, divide that figure by 7 billionish people and that's your allowance.
Then there's no pretence, you can jump on that plane but you'll have to sell your car when you got back.....simple.
Re: Roly Gross'
"Then there's no pretence, you can jump on that plane but you'll have to sell your car when you got back"
No no no no no!!!!!
That's EXACTLY the thinking that I was attacking. If you really want to make a difference, then sell your car anyway, regardless of whether you take that flight or not.
Anything else is simply doing the absolute minimum you can get away with (in fact, it's LESS than the minimum) in order to keep within your eco-budget.
It's no better than directly killing an endangered species and selling off its furs (or whatever) and saying "it's ok, because there are still some left". That's not the point. You shouldn't be killing them in the first place.
Until the cost of a train fare comes down below (the cost of a new car plus tax and insurance) / 365, I think many of us will be unable to afford the green option.
I worked in Belgium a few years ago and their trains were on-time, predictable (like E4+1) and inexpensive. Sadly, from the green viewpoint, I had to fly home each weekend, since Eurostar still hasn't made it past London .... although this has been promised since 1994.
This will never work
Lets not forget about what most of the taxation revenue is used for.. simple "Wealth Distribution". If you add to this a general policy to reduce "Social Exclusion" then you realy have a problem. If you make certain things more expensive by taxing them, you have to support in, social security payment people who are disadvantaged.. so you give them more money to stop them from being excluded and to try to ensure that their children do not become the new underclass. The classic example of this is VAT on Gas and Electricity. It simple will not work...but it will raise tax revenue! As societies get weathier they consume more... Food, Fuel and Comsumer Electrical goods, Alcohol etc..... If you make the Poor weathier without make the general population poorer the consumption will climb. But who would vote for a political party who have a mandate to make you poorer?
@ Allister Ferguson
"But who would vote for a political party who have a mandate to make you poorer?"
Erm, dunno, who voted for New labour anyway ?
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