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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for June 17th, 2008

‘Axe the gas tax,’ says B.C. NDP leader

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Populism? The recent increase in gas prices has been much greater than the new carbon tax will be – and no-one is getting any money back from that except the the oil exporting countries and the producers.

Carol James has decided to listen to people who are grumbling about gas prices – by attacking a shift from other sources of tax to one based on carbon use. Now I cannot say i like the Liberal plan very much, and I do not like the way that it exempts the biggest CO2 emitters. But consumers needed to be given an incentive to change their behaviour and now the market has given them a much bigger one than the tax will.

But perhaps she could also turn this to the issue of social justice, as consumption taxes – as opposed to income taxes – and not as progressive. In other words, they hit the poor harder than the rich. And the way most tax changes have worked in recent years the rich have done exceedingly well whereas the poor are getting poorer.  They may call it “neoconservatism” but it looks just like the old fashioned conservatism that gave us the dirty thirties – and gave birth to the party that eventually became the NDP.

Campbell has not only stolen the Green’s clothes, he has managed to drive a wedge between the two opposition parties. By splitting the anti-Liberal vote he greatly improves his chances of a third term.

But she has also shown herself to be as short sighted as the other conventional politicians. It may now be too late to do anything effective about climate change. We have prevaricated too long. Kyoto wasn’t being implemented and was not enough. Any new agreement looks like being too little too late. But the cost of the coming changes in sea levels will far exceed any imagined impact on the economy.

I wonder which planet Carol is planning on moving to.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Predictions – not if I can avoid them

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I was called early this morning by News 1130 who wanted me to talk about the carbon tax and how people would react. I pointed out that the recent oil price increase was much more dramatic than any impact of the new carbon tax, and would have a much more dramatic effect. The point really is that the carbon tax revenues go to government, which could use them to run energy efficiency programs or invest in transit. But the profits from high oil prices just go to the oil producers who are not doing very much to help cope with high energy costs.

So that got us into the rate at which oil prices will climb. And at that point I did my schtick about the crystal ball being taken back to Canadian Tire. Yes it will get to $200 a barrel, but no-one can forecast when. The expectation of higher energy costs has already started to affect people’s behavior – vehicle miles travelled have started dropping in the US, more people are riding their bikes or transit, and that holiday in Cabo San Lucas looks less doable when the budget is stretched. Will people move from the suburbs? Well some will, but condos in Kits are already unaffordable for many. And anyway, in a mulitiple earner, whose commute is the most imporatant?

Just talking off the cuff, with no resources to hand (I was putting up a rail in my son’s closet at the time) I managed to burble on quite a bit. But I am not sure I want to sit here listening to the constant yammering of news radio just to check that what i said made sense. Let me know if you listen.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 17, 2008 at 9:32 am

Posted in energy

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