Why Revenue Neutral Isn't, and Other Costs of the BC Tax

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I hope against hope that this is my last post on this lunacy. I started by foolishly saying I would write about the benefits, costs, and outcomes of the BC carbon-based energy tax, so I was stuck with doing it. I discussed the possible benefits of the tax in “British Columbia, British Utopia“. To recap the bidding from that post, I showed that if we assume 1) that the BC folks could hold their CO2 emissions steady, with absolutely no increase for 50 years, and 2) that CO2 is the secret control knob that regulates planetary temperature, and 3) climate sensitivity of the secret CO2 control knob is not less than 3°C per doubling of CO2 … assuming all of those things, they’d achieve a 0.003°C reduction in temperature in half a century. Anything less than 100% on any of those, of course, means less than three thousandths of a degree savings.

I followed that with an analysis of the pre-tax and post-tax changes in the motor fuel sales in BC called “Fuel On The Highway In British Pre-Columbia“. Curiously, both total and per-capita road fuel (diesel plus gasoline) have increased since the tax was passed.

gas lol omg wtf

Next, I discussed how people are avoiding taxes by legally buying fuel in the Evil Carbon Empire, the USA, in a post called “The Real Canadian Hockeystick.” That just leaves the costs, and that means that once I finish this post I can go back to indulging in real science, or alcohol, or anything but carbon-based energy tax. So here are some of the important costs to individuals, to businesses, to the economy, and to society in general.

The first cost to me in this is the cost to common sense. Making energy more expensive is going in exactly the wrong direction. Forcing people to pay more for energy makes no sense at all. I want to see energy get CHEAPER, not more expensive. I cannot put this too strongly:

Cheap energy is the salvation of the poor farmer, the poor housewife, and the poor in general all over the planet. It is also literally and figuratively the driving force of a developing economy.

This means that anyone advocating policies that add to the price of energy is actively harming the poor, the farmer, the housewife, and the economy. In addition, those advocating increasing the price of energy are slowing economic development in the parts of the planet that need it most.

I don’t care if you say you’re averting rumored harm to the farmer and the poor in fifty years. That does not justify harming the poor today. That’s the biggest cost of the BC energy tax—it increases the price of energy, the very lifeblood of society, hitting the poor the hardest. That, to me, is the height of cruel lunacy and thoughtless destruction. The first and most important cost of the BC carbon tax is the cost to the poor, to the disadvantaged, and to the economy.

The second cost involves the concept of a “revenue neutral” tax. Here’s the official BC government explanation of the revenue neutrality of the BC tax:

The carbon tax is revenue neutral, meaning every dollar generated by the tax is returned to British Columbians through reductions in other taxes. Tax cut measures include income tax credits for low income individuals, cutting the first two personal income tax rates by 5 per cent, providing northern and rural homeowners a benefit of up to $200 annually, and reducing the business taxes.

Clearly, they’ve made an attempt to return the money fairly by apportioning it among businesses, individuals, northern and rural homeowners, low income people, and the like, so each group gets back roughly what they’ve paid to keep the revenue neutral. To understand the problem with this, let me try to disambiguate two concepts—“revenue neutral” taxes, and “sin” taxes.

“Revenue neutral” means you are swapping out a tax on one thing for a tax on another thing, and doing it in such a way that the tax burden stays the same. In other words, the burden of the new tax is offset by reductions in other taxes.

Of course, ideally, a perfectly “revenue neutral” tax would not change any individual’s taxes. Under a perfectly revenue neutral tax change, if you used to pay a tax on A, you would pay the exact same amount now but with the tax assessed on B. In the BC case, for example, where you used to pay a tax on income, instead you’d pay the same amount of tax on energy, based on its carbon content.

Of course, there’s a million practical problems with achieving such a perfectly equitable revenue neutrality, and I’ll get to them. But for now, let’s agree that a theoretically perfect revenue neutral tax would ensure that in the changeover, nobody gained and nobody lost. For every single person, the tax you used to pay on A you’d now pay on B. All of the money paid to the government goes back to the public. Nobody gains, nobody loses, fair and equitable, no increase in anyone’s tax burden, it’s just that the tax is assessed on something else, that’s perfect revenue neutrality… hold on to that thought.

Next on the agenda is the “sin tax”. This is a tax intended to discourage behavior. Take a tax on tobacco as an example, it’s known to decrease the rates of smoking. Why? Because smokers are the losers, it costs them money out-of-pocket. Typically, the funds raised by sin taxes on e.g. tobacco are used on anti-smoking campaigns, or programs to help people quit smoking, that kind of thing.

Now to the puzzler. Consider a hybrid tax, a “revenue-neutral sin tax” like the BC carbon-based energy tax. The problem with such a tax is that if it is perfectly revenue neutral, there’s little incentive to change behavior. By that, I mean, it’s no good to impose a $200 tax on gasoline and then hand the guy $200—he’ll just go spend the $200 on gasoline. So paradoxically, the more just and equitable the revenue-neutral sin tax is, the less it will affect behavior. In other words, in order for a revenue-neutral sin tax to be effective, it needs to be unfair

In a perfect revenue neutral world there are no gainers and no losers, but you need people to lose so they’ll change their behavior … so you have to make it “not-very-revenue-neutral” to make it work.

The third cost is one of fairness, and this one has huge ramifications. Children I know all over the world have a clear sense of what’s not fair. Despite being revenue-neutral, which the BC plan demonstrably is, the plan is far from fair. By that, I mean that for far too many people, they are either spending more than they are getting back, or less than they are getting back. People look at that, and they don’t like it one bit.

My experience is that most folks don’t mind an equitably shared burden. I pay my California sales tax, 7.5% on most everything, without protest or resentment. I don’t like how some of that is spent, but it’s taxes, everyone pays the same.

But if I knew that three of my neighbors paid no sales tax on anything that they buy, and I was being charged not 7.5% but 15%, it would angrify my blood mightily, I’d resent it hugely. And that’s the BC situation.

One of the ramifications of this is that perceived unfairness greatly encourages people to cheat, in whatever way that they can. If people feel (correctly or not) that the government is screwing them, they’ll be happy to try to screw the government. This is not good for the rule of law.

The fourth cost is the cost to the poor. I give them their own category because the poor are hit the hardest by rising energy costs. Now, the BC plan does at least attempt to address this real issue, through something called the “Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit”, or LICATC … and this provides another example of why “revenue neutral” isn’t. Here are the requirements for eligibility for the LICATC:

You’re eligible to claim the credit if you’re a resident of B.C. and you:

  • are 19 years of age or older, or

  • have a spouse or common-law partner, or

  • are a parent who resides with your child.

Only one person can apply for the credit on behalf of the family.

In other words, if you’re a young BC resident who (like I did when I was young) is living on his own and working at a job at 17, you’re out of luck. If I’d been living in BC, I’d have been paying energy tax and getting nothing back for two long years.

After the two years of paying energy tax, once I turned 19 and was eligible, I could get $115.50 from the BC Government from the LICATC. Now, there’s lots of jobs for which you have to drive a distance. I commuted 45 miles each way for a couple years when I was younger. Someone doing that with an old car, say 15 miles per gallon, might burn six gallons per work day. Two hundred work days in a year, 1,200 gallons. The BC tax is about twenty-five cents per gallon, that’s $300 in taxes I’m paying … and the LICATC gives me $115.50. Once again the poor get the short end of the stick. David Suzuki doesn’t care how much his gas costs, heck, for all I know free gas is just one of the services provided by his adoring female devotees, and he’s got lots of slack in his budget … but the poor have no devotees, and no slack in their budget at all.

The fifth cost is the tax on the tax. Of course, the Government of Canada gets to charge the Goods and Service Tax (GST) on all transactions … including the carbon tax. So while BC doesn’t keep any of the tax money, Ottawa is extracting thirty million bucks per year from British Columbians, charging them money for the privilege of being taxed on their carbon-based energy use …

The sixth cost is the overhead. You can’t run a complex program like a carbon-based energy tax without lots of paper pushers. And when you have paper pushers you need representatives of the porkoisie to supervise them and keep them from being fired. You need people to write the regulations. You need people to interpret the regulations. You need people to make the regulations more complex. You need people to count every molecule of CO2, and I’m telling you, even on a molecular scale those buggers are tiny. You need carbon cops to enforce the tax, and courts to punish people who are guilty of tax evasion. You need people to explain the complex regulations and forms to the poor bastards that have to fill them out. You need cheerleaders to write endlessly optimistic speeches about how well things are going. The list goes on for a while more, and no part of it is cheap, it’s government work …

The seventh cost is the pensions. Every person taking your tax money today and faithfully giving it back to you tomorrow in blessed revenue neutrality will be taking your tax money for thirty years after they retire and not giving back a dime.

The eighth cost is the rent-seekers. These include folks like Sustainable Canada and other organizations for whom this is a grant-raising bonanza. Then there are a host of lawyers, advisers, accountants, consultants, and the rest of the good folk who make their living out of the hysteria surrounding the alarmism and the complexities of the regulations. They produce nothing useful, they are a dead weight on society, but they come right along with the tax, they mate for life.

The ninth cost is the cost of tax avoidance/evasion. I used to work as an income tax preparer. There’s a distinction between tax avoidance (which is legal) and tax evasion (which is not legal). Seems like a bright-line definition … until you find out that in the US, if you adopt a business policy purely to avoid a tax, the IRS says that is illegal tax evasion.

But under any definition there are several costs in this arena of what might be called creative responses to the BC tax. At a simple level, the cost is the money hemorrhaging out of BC into the pockets of American and Albertan gas stations for gasoline. But it’s much worse than that.

Next level up, many staples are much cheaper in the US. So when BC residents come across the line to fill up on cheap gas, hey, might as well buy milk and cheerios and flashlight batteries and all the things that are 30%, 50% cheaper across the border. This is no help to the BC economy at all, quite the opposite.

Next level up, since the tax there has been an increase of 4 million additional vehicle trips across the border per year. This is a huge cost in waste of gas, time, vehicles, and human energy.

Plus I read that there’s now a side industry putting concealed fuel tanks on trucks so that they can haul an extra fifty gallons or so of fuel across on every trip … wouldn’t surprise me.

Finally, in the most general sense there’s a cost to society when you encourage people to be scofflaws. Unpopular taxes which were perceived by the common citizen as being unfair caused a bit of trouble in Boston, as I recall …

The tenth cost is the hours people will spend filling out the paperwork. For example, the poor people, the people at the margin, the people sleeping in their cars or under the bridges, or with their aunties, can get a check from the government for the Low Income Climate whatever Credit, and they merely have to do the following (emphasis mine):

Claiming the Credit

You or your spouse or common-law partner can apply for the low income climate action tax credit when you file your T1 Income Tax Return with the CRA. On page 1 of your return, check the “Yes” box in the GST/HST credit application area.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, be sure to complete the information concerning your spouse or common-law partner in the Identification area on page 1. Include his or her net income, even if it is zero. Enter his or her social insurance number if it is not on your personal label or if you are not attaching a label.

To receive the credit for your children under the age of 18, they must be registered for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). If your children are not registered for the CCTB, complete the Canada Child Benefits Application form (RC66). You can also request the CCTB form by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-2221.

Riiight … grandma who can’t speak, read, or write English will be all over that one, as will the young guy living in his car and paying the BC energy tax while looking for work …

The eleventh cost is official hypocrisy. One surprising thing I found out in researching this is that the good burghers of BC have fields containing evil natural gas …  and even more coal. They don’t use much gas or coal themselves, in part because they have plenty of hydroelectric power. So although they personally dislike those nasty black fossils, they are all too happy to make a living selling them … the industry paid $1.3 billion for the use of the resources, and spent $6.7 billion on exploration and development. Total value of the fossil fuels exported from BC in 2010 was nearly ten billion dollars, about a quarter of their total exports. And to my surprise, seven billion dollars of that was from exporting coal. Big coal bucks, in other words.

So the BC folks are not too proud to take stacks of evil coal money, and thus be totally complicit in the extraction and use of fossil fuels, because as long as other people burn the fuels they can wash their hands and feel all pure … dang, you know this public expiation of BC carbon guilt is starting to make more sense.

What I hadn’t realized was that behind the facade of forest green, BC is a big-time coal baron. Funny how sometimes it takes me so long to finally wake up to some important part of the puzzle … in any case, of course they need to rid themselves of that secret shame, so it’s no wonder this particular carbon-taxing scheme could be sold there. They can get rid of their guilt that way.

And here’s the sting in the end of that tale. Any evil fossil fuel produced in BC which is sold outside of BC pays no carbon tax at all! So the big gas and big coal companies, which are producing gas and coal responsible for billions of tons of CO2, are exempt from the BC carbon tax. How ironic is that? The citizens pay the carbon tax, and the coal companies don’t … I never cease to be amazed at the strange contortions of these energy-taxing fools …

The twelfth cost is officials denying inconvenient reality. The so-called “fugitive emissions” (meaning leaks) of methane are a big issue with the radical left who would like to end fracking (and civilization as well, apparently). This has led to the curiously entertaining spectacle of the BC carbon-based energy tax taking “friendly fire” from DeSmog Canada for not accounting for the reality of these methane gas leaks in the greenhouse gas inventory. Gotta love the spectacle of green-on-green violence, not to mention the schadenfreude of watching the BC energy tax being bombarded from the left for a change …

In addition to that unaccounted raft of emissions from natural gas, you need to add in the emissions from all of the fuel bought in Alberta and the US. The official accounting denies the reality of both of those emission sources in the calculations of the effects of the tax …

You know, there are probably more costs from this crazy BC energy tax, but it’s late, and I’ve had it with BC’s attacks on the poor. Those financial and social costs and injustices would be enough to scuttle a plan which actually had some benefits … and since the benefits in this case are meaninglessly small, in a sane world it would have sunk without notice the year before it was implemented. And yet here we are, and the bureaucrats involved are already counting their fat pension checks …

In closing, let me offer up without comment my search of the official BC Government website:

bc search results no carbonSOURCE

Best regards to all, I’m going to go look at some numbers and do some programming in R and rest my mind …

w.

NOTE: This is one of a four-part series on the BC carbon-based energy tax. The parts are:

British Columbia, British Utopia

Fuel on the Highway in British Pre-Columbia

The Real Canadian Hockeystick

Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax

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Wow, Willis. Stunning. You had me hanging on every word – and I’m Australian.
The sooner people – and I mean regular, ordinary citizens – wake up to this the better. The pushers of these crazy schemes are getting away with it because people are sitting back and letting it happen, and they’re doing that because they don’t know it’s happening the way it is!
Keep up the good fight. I enjoy your articles. Cheers to you, I’ll have a beer in your name.

James Bull

It just goes to show that they have been successful in removing the “EVIL” carbon from BC, what more proof do you need?
James Bull

Cement is also more expensive, and being imported in greater quantities from jurisdictions without the carbon tax:
“The Cement Industry
The economic damage done to the once vibrant BC cement industry is another victim of the carbon tax. Since 2008, the industry has paid $20 million in carbon taxes while cement imports to the province have increased from 4% to an unprecedented 23%.”
http://www.bcchamber.org/advocacy/policy/provincial_gov/finance/bcs_costly_carbon_tax.html

Bloke down the pub

It’s no suprise that so many politicians are lawyers, when you consider that the group of people most likely to benefit from any legislation are the blood sucking leeches of that profession.

Les Johnson

Leakage is always a problem with taxes. Increased importation of cement is a good example of leakage.
Governments never learn (NEVER!), that if you want more of something, reduce its taxation. If you want less of something, increase its taxation. Putting a tax on everything (ala a carbon tax), means you really want less of everything.

Peter Miller

BC is the most hippified part of Canada. I once read a leader article in an Alberta (the province next door) newspaper about 15 years ago, which sums up BC’s problem with getting to grips with reality. I promise you this is true: the article was berating the Alberta government for not paying more unemployment benefit, as it was ‘forcing’ all these people to relocate to BC, where the benefits were more generous and the climate was better.
Much of BC is truly beautiful, but you do not want to try and start up a mining or an industrial project there, the Ecoloons will make it almost impossible.

CodeTech

Maybe they’re exporting the coal with a requirement that it not be burned.
(Also please note that these points don’t apply in Norway).

It seems that Governments just do not learn from history. My thoughts turned to England in the 18th and 19th century where many goods were taxed at very high rates. This was also one of the causes of the American Revolution. Smuggling became very big business in the South East of England. It became so big that smuggling missions were financed by big business. While it became cheaper to buy smuggled goods, the legitimate goods were not being bought so people lost their jobs, businesses went bankrupt and of course very little taxes were collected. In the case of BC the citizens are doing legitimate smuggling. They drive to Washington or Alberta to buy their fuel and while at it buy other goods. In the meantime the businesses who stay lay off staff and eventually fold and the government actually loses money by collecting less tax.
Einstein was 100% correct. Human stupidity is infinite.

Gen. P. Malaise

B.C. has the crud. the crud is like the reverse midas touch where everything turns to sh!t.
B.C. has squandered so many opportunities and destroyed so many budgets that they are hardly distinguishable from California.

TimTheToolMan

Willis writes “Someone doing that with an old car, say 15 miles per gallon, might burn six gallons per work day.”
Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!

Les Johnson

Peter Miller: Alberta is funny that way. They found the best way to increase a person’s income, while on welfare, was to cut welfare payments.
It was found that many recipients on welfare went back into the workforce after the welfare cuts. The average increase in income was over 100%.
God bless Texas Alberta.

Les Johnson

And that memory thing that Willis talked about? Totally true. Don’t trust it.
The average increase in income was 40%.
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2003/03/26/51412-cp.html

Jimbo

It’s not just BC enjoying great coal export earnings. The US of A is laughing too as it fights the ’causes of climate change’ and relieves itself of carbon guilt. While there carbon emission go down, their coal exports go up. This is how to ‘fight the causes of climate change’.
No wonder the Earth as a whole sees co2 levels continue up and up despite billions being spent on fighting eeeeeevil co2. What a bloody joke.
19 June 2013
U.S. coal exports set monthly record
20 June 2013
Record US coal exports fuel climate change debate
21 June 2013
25% of U.S. coal exports go to Asia,…
3 June 2013
Coal exports rise 5pc in April | The Australian

Jimbo

To avoid any confusion the last on is just for Australia.

Richard Wakefield

Another aspect of this tax is school boards have to pay for that tax when they heat their schools. The added expense has forced those school boards to cut programs.

Paul Schnurr

“Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!”
The point is poor people rarely “choose” their form of transportation using whatever is available and functioning at any given point in time.

Nice, detailed analysis. You could have stopped with the fact that politicians get a big pile of money that they are genetically driven to give away several times and need to expand their bureaucracy to handle.

Matt Bergin

In reply to Tim the Tool man
“Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!”
I drive a 1997 Lincoln Mark VIII and it averages about 17 miles per gallon in the city. I could buy a Prius for $32,000 and get 45 miles per gallon. Instead I bought my Lincoln for $700. That is a saving of $31,300. I use about $1500 in gas per year. So by purchasing the Lincoln I can buy twenty years of gasoline for what I saved in the purchase price. Best of all no one had to make another car.

CodeTech

TimTheToolMan:
What about the handyman running an older pickup or van? It’s the only thing he’s got that can hold all his tools and stuff, and no way he’s going to spring for a brand shiny new $50k vehicle. Don’t forget a lot of those old 70s vehicles, still on the road, were burdened with first generation anti-smog crap that cuts mileage even more. Don;t kid yourself, there are a LOT of people in the barely-getting-by mode.
Used smaller vehicles command a premium, and thus are still unaffordable for many.

ddpalmer

“Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!”
If you barely make enough money to buy food you don’t really have the ability to buy anything better. And all the tax will do is drive you to being unemployment.

richard verney

Cars can be very personal and are often not chosen for their functionality, nor because they make good sense.
New large cars are more fuel efficient, but old small cars can be quite economical because they are far lighter than today’s counterpart.
I have an old Lancia, almost 50 years old. Kerb weight is 810kgs. Mine is slightly lightened and is probably about 780 to 790kg. It has a 1.6 engine producing about 140bhp. On a run it returns about 30mpg. But if I drive it economically, i can get 45 mpg. I have a modernish VW Golf GTI, its economy is no better (probably slightly worse) and it is far slower (not top speed but acceleration and general point to point driving in country lanes).
In the 1960s you could buy a FIAT Arbarth with Zagato body with a 1 litre engine. Top speed was just under 130mph, 0 to 60 in about 6 seconds with typical economy of about 60mpg and you could eek out over 70mpg. Mind you, it weighed in at under 500kg. So just as economical as the sporty looking SMART coupe, and far more Va Va Vroom. The other big plus is that it is drop dead gorgeous and appreciates in value.
Willis, many good points. This is the problem with Government. Often about 70% of money taken in is just absorbed in the cogs of the machinery collecting the money, deciding what to do with it, impelementing policy, overseeing and auditing policy and its implementation. Very little gets to front line services. This is why government needs to be scaled back. It is very inefficient and should be as small as possible, leaving people with more money in their pocket to spend as they wish.
You are right the energy should be a s cheap as possible. It is mad (and bad) to have a policy that makes energy as costly as possible.

Resourceguy

The search for tax revenue to perpetuate the vote buying machine never stops.

klem

Canadians can be the nicest most laid back people you’d ever want to meet. But man, they are suckers when it comes to taxation. They fall for the revenue neutral line over and over again. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving in Canada.
When will people know this simple rule: there is no such thing as a revenue neutral tax. Period.

Paul Schnurr

“The point is poor people rarely “choose” their form of transportation using whatever is available and functioning at any given point in time.”
How many politicians and policy makers have ever truly been in this situation? Or are their memories that short?

Hoser

Low fuel costs would help the poor become not poor, that is, it would help them become independent. Government can’t have no excuse to exist, so it needs poor people who need more government. The more poor people the better, apparently. Obama and California are taking us past the point of no return where government is taking complete control and everyone is going to be poorer. And the stupid part is, even the rich will lose, because what we have enjoyed won’t be maintained. It’s the well worn path to the Third World. The forgot what one of their heroes said, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.”

“porkoisie”….LOL…I just had to Google that:
1 result (0.17 seconds)
Did you mean: porpoise
Search Results
Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax | Watts …
wattsupwiththat.com/…/why-revenue-neutral-isnt-and-other-costs-of-the-…‎
6 hours ago – And when you have paper pushers you need representatives of the porkoisie to supervise them and keep them from being fired. You need …

AJ

You forgot one. All taxes go into general revenues so once it is collected you cannot determine where it came from nor what it was intended for. Gas taxes are supposed to be for infrastructure maint. but almost none of it goes there as seen by the poor state of the roads.

DR

Growing up near Detroit, I can remember when Americans crossed into Canada to buy cheaper gas. My how things have changed.

TimTheToolMan

To all those who say that if you’re poor you need to buy a car that’s an inefficient gas guzzler then what utter rubbish! There are lots of cheap used cars around for all sorts of prices and you certainly dont need to be spending thousands to get a small efficient car.

tgmccoy

Tim the Toolman- you obviously aren’t struggling. I have to drive my GM van-that is all I have due to this economy., I have to drive 35 miles to work. Get a clue…

TimTheToolMan

tgmccoy write “Get a clue…”
Get a clue? Really? You cant find a more efficient car for about the same price in your area? Really? To those who play the “They’re poor and cant make sensible choices” card, shame on you!

Bruce Cobb

Here in New Hampshire, when in a vindictive mood we will sometimes refer to our neighbor to the south as “Taxachusetts”. They in turn may return fire with their “Cow Hampshire” epithet which really hurts because, well in fact we don’t have nearly as many cows as we used to, but that’s a different story. Anyway, they have both sales taxes and income taxes, while we have neither, (with the exception of booze and cigs, but more on that later) which is sometimes termed “the New Hampshire advantage”. The result is that we get lots of people buying stuff here instead of elsewhere, which includes all the states around us. Even our “sin” taxes are lower than elsewhere, so people will load up on booze and cigs here as well. Border towns get the additional business boost of cross-border shopping.
Ah, but there is a price to pay (never is a “free lunch” actually free), and that is that our beautiful state has to make up its income from elsewhere. In part, it gets it from the sale of booze, by virtue of its state liquor stores, and the fact that only they can sell hard liquor. It nickles and dimes its citizens right and left, so if you need to blow your nose and it involves the state somehow, it’s gonna cost you, and probably more than you’d think. Then, whatever responsibility, most notably education that the state has, it will to whatever extent possible pawn off on the towns, meaning property taxes. Now, not all towns are created equal with regard to property. The discrepancy in fact can be huge. So we have the spectre of property-poor towns, with both a high property tax, and yet still struggling to keep education standards at a bare minimum. Neat, huh?
Taxes. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

ddpalmer

“To those who play the “They’re poor and cant make sensible choices” card, shame on you!”
Where did you dig up this strawman? Who claimed they can’t make sensible choices?
For many the sensible choice is to keep the only vehicle they have, despite its poor mpg, rather than the choice to not go to work. Many of them can’t buy any car and are stuck with the car they have.

TimTheToolMan

Finding the cash up front may be difficult (even just a few hundreds for some folk) but when the payback period is measured in just a few weeks for those that have to travel a bit, then its worth finding a way.

klem says:
July 15, 2013 at 6:02 am
Canadians can be the nicest most laid back people you’d ever want to meet. But man, they are suckers when it comes to taxation. They fall for the revenue neutral line over and over again. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving in Canada.
When will people know this simple rule: there is no such thing as a revenue neutral tax. Period.
—-
Thanks, but there are a number of us who oppose these kinds of taxes and realize what they are. Getting more revenue. A lot of the voting public are what American’s call “Pinkos”, Socialists, verging on communist. They want the government to provide more and more free stuff that the rest of us have to pay for. Nice we may be, but many are incapable of taking responsibility for their lives and want the government to run it for them. They call it “progressive”, but greedy actually when you think about it. Increases in taxes are quire regressive when in excess, like this.
BC has one of the worse concentrations of such people.

Owen

What a wonderful series of articles you’ve written Willis. Thank you for your efforts. If the Canadian media had any backbone, they’d be knocking down your door to ask to use your work. Sadly, the media like the people up here are a bunch of robots that never question the propaganda they’ve been programmed with.

eyesonu

TimTheToolMan
Are you aware of Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” deal. It removed a hugh number of affordable used vehicles from the market in the US. A majority were the vehicles that the lower income would have stepped up to. Very few of the so called clunkers were actually clunkers. They were the vehicles driven by those who could afford to purchase a new car.
Every supporter of that sorry legislation should be imprisioned.

Bruce Cobb

Tim, I think the point is that you shouldn’t fall into the trap of blaming the poor, or less-well-off for their own poorness. That’s the “let them eat cake” mentality. If someone is driving a lower-mileage vehicle, there is probably a good reason for it. Yes, poor people can and do make poor financial decisions, just as many people do. However, the consequences for them are going to be worse.

BDFT

When speaking of BC a distinction should be made between what is called The Lower Mainland and the rest of BC. Most of the hippies, socialists and global warming scaremongers are concentrated in Vancouver and Victoria along with most of the population. The rest of us are logging, mining and pumping oil and gas like crazy. Hippies make six figures where I live working in mines or the oil patch and keep their opinions to themselves.

otropogo

As informative as this post, and many of the reader comments, is, it offers no solution. The fundamental problem at the root of the B.C. carbon tax scam, and many other injustices, is that “government” is, as almost always in Western democratic societies, as a faceless, nameless, unstoppable force, for which no one is to blame except its victims themselves.
The reality, so diligently, unceasingly, and successfully obscured by the mass media, is that all government, at every level consists of people – ruthlessly lying, cheating, thieving, brutalizing, murderous people. Many of the depredations they visit on their “constituents” are crimes punishable by years of imprisonment, or would be, if the courts and police were not an integral part of the machinery of exploitation and repression. And, lest we forget, the police, the courts, the legal profession and all their support organizations consist of people too.
The real genius of democracy as we live it turns out to be to make the ruled feel responsible for their own misfortunes, and the tool that makes this possible is the lie. Until and unless humanity finds a way of purging government of liars, our civilization is doomed to extinction, because the global funeral pyre that Adolf Hitler dreamed of but lacked the means to assemble, is now well within reach, and can now be ignited by multiple pathways without any need for a megalomaniac dictator.

TimTheToolMan says:
July 15, 2013 at 6:53 am
To all those who say that if you’re poor you need to buy a car that’s an inefficient gas guzzler then what utter rubbish! There are lots of cheap used cars around for all sorts of prices and you certainly dont need to be spending thousands to get a small efficient car.

To quote Arnold J. Rimmer, “Wrong! Wrong! Absolutely brimming over with wrongability!” We’re helping out a, well, I’ll just call him a “family friend”. All we’ve got to let him use to get to work is my old race transporter. So if he’s gonna get back and forth to work, he’s got to do it in a 2000 V8 Dodge Ram Van. Sub 10mpg. That’s it. The only thing available. He can’t buy a “cheap used car”. He can’t buy any car. There is no room, none, zero, zilch, nada – left in his budget. Whenever I use the van I always get it with the low fuel warning light on. He can’t afford to keep gas in it. Willis is right. And you’re dead wrong. There are tons a people out there to whom $100 is big bucks.

Russ R.

Willis,
One disagreement. You wrote “By that, I mean, it’s no good to impose a $200 tax on gasoline and then hand the guy $200—he’ll just go spend the $200 on gasoline. So paradoxically, the more just and equitable the revenue-neutral sin tax is, the less it will affect behavior.”
Economically speaking, this isn’t true. Decision making is based on marginal costs, not averages.
If an average person consumes 100 widgets a year, and you impose a $1 tax per widget while giving everyone a check for a fixed $100, widget consumption will fall. The individual’s behaviour doesn’t impact the fixed $100 received, but it does affect the variable amount of tax paid. The $100 rebate will be spent on all sorts of goods, services or savings, not just on widgets.

tw

The people running this province are idiots, especially that rube running Vancouver. You cannot build a vibrant economy with foreign trust funders. Nor can you build it by adopting policies that mimic cities of destitute people.
If the government is for it, you should be against it here. So much stupidity, of which this is merely one aspect.

Chuck Nolan

TimTheToolMan says:
July 15, 2013 at 3:53 am
Willis writes “Someone doing that with an old car, say 15 miles per gallon, might burn six gallons per work day.”
Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!
———————————————–
So, what’s your point?
cn

Justthinkin

“Making energy more expensive is going in exactly the wrong direction.”
If there is a more succient sentence than this one above,I sure would like to hear it.

Willis Eschenbach

TimTheToolMan says:
July 15, 2013 at 3:53 am

Willis writes

“Someone doing that with an old car, say 15 miles per gallon, might burn six gallons per work day.”

Only 15 miles per gallon! If that’s your car, you’ve chosen it particularly badly. Its taxes like these that are supposed to be driving people towards greater efficiency and 15 miles per gallon is just awful!

Gosh, yeah, why didn’t that impecunious 17-year-old drive a new Prius, the idiot! Damn poor people, always choosing “particularly badly” …
w.

Justthinkin

And as an after thought……isn’t “revenue neutral” an oxymoron?

Willis Eschenbach

Richard Wakefield says:
July 15, 2013 at 5:02 am

Another aspect of this tax is school boards have to pay for that tax when they heat their schools. The added expense has forced those school boards to cut programs.

Thanks, Richard, I’d forgotten about that one. Schools and hospitals typically have large heating requirements, and now they have to pay carbon tax on top of that. Of course it’s not in the school budgets, but heck, it’s just part of the magical revenue neutrality at work …
w.

Willis Eschenbach

Michael Craig says:
July 15, 2013 at 6:21 am

“porkoisie”….LOL…I just had to Google that:

Yeah, I make words sit up and pay attention, I don’t let them laze about and have any old meaning just because they’ve meant that for centuries …
Glad you liked it.
w.

Willis Eschenbach

TimTheToolMan says:
July 15, 2013 at 6:53 am

To all those who say that if you’re poor you need to buy a car that’s an inefficient gas guzzler then what utter rubbish! There are lots of cheap used cars around for all sorts of prices and you certainly dont need to be spending thousands to get a small efficient car.

Oh, Tim, you’re so funny when you try to describe reality, it’s really cute.
Poor people don’t have many choices, Tim. It’s all part of the whole “poor” deal, you might google it …
w.