So, the budget
Posted February 22, 2008on:
A few weeks ago, the BC Liberal government had a press release – and it was huge. $14 billion dollars for transit improvement (you should say “billion” like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers).
That’s nice. The Tri-Cities will get the long sought-after Evergreen line to extend rapid transit to that area. Great.
Yesterday, Minister Taylor wore a pair of green Fluevogs while she delivered the budget. They’re calling it the “Green Budget” – green, not only in the sense of environmentally green, but green in the sense of putting money back in the pockets of consumers.
Oh, and there’s a carbon tax. Come Canada Day, the price of gasoline will increase by 2.4 cents per litre. All fossil fuels get this tax, including the natural gas you use to heat your home. But don’t worry! The tax is revenue neutral: 2/3 of that will go directly back into the pockets of those who need it, and help reduce BC’s greenhouse gases by 5% by 2020 (or something). The remaining 1/3 goes to business.
Nevermind that the largest polluters – particularly the gas business – aren’t affected by the tax. More on this later.
My first point: the government is passing the costs of greenhouse gas reduction on to the citizenry. Apparently, the government can confer with big businesses on this, but not the people who actually vote for them.
By raising the price of gas, the carbon tax could reduce B.C.’s GHG emissions in 2020 by up to three million tonnes. Go ahead and click that link to see pundit Michael Smyth’s take on it. I think he makes some really good points. Read the comments, too.
Instead of 3 million tonnes, lets look at something we can all understand. That decrease is somewhere around 5%. Which is somewhere around 0.06% of global GHGs.
Lets face it: in BC, we have largely clean energy thanks to hydro-electric power.
Back to the transit thing: this tax is going in before the new transit lines are put in. This makes it a cash grab, despite the fact that its revenue-neutral. Oh, and transit fares have just increased, and the new TransLink board just gave itself a HUUUUUUGE raise.
All of this boils down to: how does it affect me?
Quite honestly, this budget just further alienates me. I drive to work every day. Every month, I burn between $120 and $150 in gas. My West Coast Express pass would cost me $195 for 28 days. It runs in the mornings, and in the evenings, and that’s it. Then there’s the “train bus” on the weekends. And because I have several evening meetings per month, I lose anywhere from 4 to 12 days per month on the pass. You do the math. We live where we do because we simply cannot afford to own a house in the city.
To take the SkyTrain from Vancouver to Surrey is now a $10 round trip.
My second point: if you’re going to tax me for driving, you need to build the amenities on the other end. Start by lowering transit fares. Then we can talk.
Speaking of talking, remember the point above about businesses not being affected by the carbon tax? (Pardon me if I get ranty here – this is the part that gets me MAD) They’re part of a separate process. Representatives get to meet with the government to discuss what to do.
Now, I know a thing or two about democracy. And I know that one of the things about democracy is that people vote, not businesses.
My third point: who do you think you are dealing with big business and ignoring the citizens?
What a fucking insult. Every single citizen, whether you voted for the Liberal government or not, should be deeply insulted at a fundamental level. Not only because business is being consulted and citizens are not, but because this tax is going to hit you whether you like it or not.
My fourth point: I recycle: we throw out one bag of garbage every 10 days. I drive a fuel efficient car; it is as fuel efficient as many hybrids. I buy meat from local growers. We buy local veggies whenever possible and stock up from Darren’s mom’s garden in the summer. Even the beer and wine we drink is local and the wine is organic – well, the wine is from the Okanagan, but that’s local enough. And business doesn’t have to do this and still gets consulted?
Where’s my tax credit for doing what I can? Where are my chits for locally grown meats and vegetables? Why not start there where its something more tangible?
IMHO, this is a great big, “Fuck you very much” to the citizens of BC.
As a follow-up, you should read Crunchy Carpets’ post over at Wet Coast Women.
Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women
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