Miller is not the only tax-abuser

Finn Poschmann, director of research and William Robson, president and chief executive of the C.D.Howe Institute provide some excellent insight into why we Canadians – and likely many other democracies – will continue to flub any chance we have at addressing GHG issues. In Polluters to pay – except if they vote (National Post, Saturday, June 9, 2007), Poschmann and Robson show that Quebec Natural Resources Minister Claude Béchard can mis-wield his tax authority just as well as can Toronto’s Mayor David Miller.

In both cases, the creative development of the pricing signals we need consumers to receive are missing. In Béchard’s case the signals are intended to be silenced to avoid loss of votes. In Miller’s case the signals are visible but diluted and mis-aimed. Poschmann and Robson’s, write:

“The political lesson here is that hasty reaction to public pressure is hurting our chances of making wise choices. That preventing consumers from experiencing” pricing signals emanating from careless consumption, “would prevent them from reducing their emissions is something any first-year economics student could have pointed out. Yet the rush to announce has now diverted the debate.”

“Without the impact on consumers that would change their behaviour, Minister Bechard's tax” [and Miller’s] “is just another tax. The rush to judgment on man-made global warming risks exposing Canadians to lots of pain, for no gain at all.”

More politicians could take a lesson from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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