21 December 2005

End of the Carbon Tax

The government is canning the Carbon Tax - probably thanks to NZ First and United Future, making the Greens livid and making David Farrar cheer.
It follows a 400 page report from the Ministry of the Environment which concluded "the proposed charge was unfair, inefficient and unlikely to substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions".
Given how committed so many in that Ministry are to the ecological agenda, this is damning stuff. I have dealt with a few MfE officials in my time, and they are at the least, very ecology conscious, and at the other extreme would have been very comfortable with a Green Party Minister. The Greens should read this report and see what an organisation that believes in their objectives does when it objectively analyses a policy - this sort of turnaround is not a small one.
However, as much as the Greens wanted NZ to be part of the moral leadership of the world - the only reason other countries signed up to Kyoto was because they would be net recipients - because they are experiencing economic decline, flat population growth (e.g Russia) or significant improvements in the efficiencies of their industries (e.g. former Soviet bloc countries) which means they are cutting net carbon emissions.
Moral leadership was to cost NZ a 0.2% decrease in GDP by 2012. That, under current values, is around $234 million a year - $59 for every man, woman and child that you would not be able to spend every year. The Greens would say this is a small price to pay for moral leadership - is it?
More fundamentally, the Greens are wrong - the planet is not burning, the world is not coming to an end - it has been ending for centuries, there was an ice age imminent in the 1970s, now it is global warming. The scaremongering and hatred of the productive with phrases like "They are putting the corporate pursuit of short-term profits ahead of the planet’s and our grandchildren’s future" are irresponsible.
These profits keep people fed, clothed and sheltered - they employ people, they produce the goods that we use everyday, they allow people to communicate, move, socialise and enjoy their lives. They pay for the professionals, the medication, the facilities for our infrastructure from plumbing to healthcare to heating. Most people don't make profits to put in a money bin like Uncle Scrooge, they do so to produce and consume and spend on what they want - which is to spend on what others produce.
As PC said some weeks ago, the question is whether government interference or benign neglect are better approaches when dealing with global warming.
Unfortunately the final call from the Greens was concern about what services will get cut or taxes increased to pay for Dr Cullen's "loss of revenue" - how about less government spending on bureaucracies, subsidies and crazy rail projects?

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