It’s hard to write when all you hear seems to be heading from the silly to the outright absurd; hence my lack of enthusiasm of late. What truly makes me gape is the familiar loop of mock outrage and a certain majority willing to take such statements at face value.
When any form of regulation on environmental or health matters is on the cards, there is always a backlash of various groups with invested interests who try to appeal to the audience as being the “underdog” against some overarching governmental force committed to crushing progress.
The Coalition have in the past vocalised their opposition to the ‘Alcopop tax’ which has since proven effective in curbing alcohol abuse in young adults.
The tactic used in the latter also included the same as that now being employed by the tobacco industry in promoting fears of a “nanny state”.
Honestly, get a grip!
Sure, we adults are allowed to do whatever we want to do, however, if we indulge in risky behaviour which is likely to put a burden on the wider community, well we should expect to pay more to do so – as we would expect the community to care for us if/when such risky behaviour turns sour.
The same can be said about the carbon tax.
To date, there remains no scientific debate regarding the greenhouse properties of carbon dioxide or that the industrial era has increased the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Of the scientific community, it remains only a small group of climate related scientists who question how important this is. Of them, Lindzen has repeated made mistakes, Roy Spencer has admitted that he sees his role more as a political propagandist and Willie Soon and Pat Michaels have not only undermined themselves through their various mistakes, but also how heavily they’re funded by the companies most likely to be hurt through actions to tackle anthropogenic climate change.
That is largely the basis for the so-called “AGW sceptics”. You could include Gina Reinhart’s lapdog – Chirs Monckton – but honestly, who still seriously takes this art major seriously? Even Thatcher – his beloved name drop – seems to find him forgettable.
More broadly than this, as David has recently summed up very well, Gillard’s carbon tax focuses directly on the big polluters whom, to remain competitive, will need to clean up their act to reduce costs to the consumer. In turn the consumer can avoid these extra costs by avoiding unnecessary consumption or selecting more efficient alternatives. It’s not a big tax on everyone, but a small tax on dirty activities.
On the other hand Abbott’s carbon tax, while lower per unit of carbon, is a tax placed directly on the taxpayer. It is unavoidable regardless how clean your activities are and does not encourage industry to clean up through the market driven incentives. So, unlike Gillard’s, neither industry nor the consumer are directly encouraged to change their behaviour.
Yet, the public seems to be buying into Abbott’s claim – that the average Aussie can smell a dud deal when they come by one – without actually wondering if the odour’s so strong because they’re swaying in his direction!
We’re not the first, nor are we making such changes alone, regardless of what you’ve heard. The European Union has had an emissions trading scheme for a number of years already and China is investing big in alternate sources of energy. Improved infrastructure now, while the going is comparatively good, means that as oil prices increase, those who acted sooner will feel less of the pinch. Abbott wants the taxpayer to fork out for this work and not the industries responsible.
With each passing day, I seem to recognise Australia less and less. The laidback, funny, but hardworking (when it’s needed) sheen seems to have faded and replaced by a self-righteous indignation unjustly resulting from serious reflections on our behaviour.
Of course, this isn’t the reality of the average Aussie (at least, I hope not), but the trumpet call from the appalling mass media machine that we’re saturated by.
They want you to be angry, but for their reasons and not your own. And you should be angry.
You should be angry that fluctuating oil prices are allowed to impact on economies so greatly that they played a major role in the global financial crisis of 2008. You should be angry that, if you’re willing to give up the personal vehicle in favour of more communal modes of transport in ever growing cities, that in many cases they are expensive, dirty, unsafe and inefficient. You should be angry that your food sees more of the globe than you do. You should be angry that your grand kids probably won’t enjoy tuna because it was too profitable for us to even contemplate reducing our harvest to give them a chance. You should be angry that in the past thirty years we burnt more than half of all the oil ever burnt; largely on junk that has since found its way to landfill, idle congestion and climate control in appalling housing design. You should be furious that you will leave this wonderful world much less diverse of life than it had been given to you and while we may watch the few aging footages of the last Thylacine with an inkling of guilt, future generations will have copious amounts of high definition footage of creatures they will never witness in the wild.
You really should be angry that all of this happens and many of us feel powerless to stop it.
Human activity must change to work with the natural world, not degrade it.
It must start where the power is and that isn’t so much the public or the public sector, but industry – where the bulk of production and energy use occurs.
Abbott’s tax is the dud. It’s a joke and it will be remembered for pinching the tail of the beast rather than muzzling its gluttonous mouth. Worse than that, we the public will be mocked for listening to such absurd media outlets and falling for baseless indignation. It’s obvious that they are not working for our best interests and have fuelled the most ridiculous debates in promoting paralysis of progress and innovation.
The alcopop tax has worked (and I suspect the same will occur when reviewing new recruitment of younger smokers with plain packaging).
Industry can still prosper if forced, through regulation, to do the right thing.
Taxing the 500 biggest Aussie polluters is a small step in the right direction, which provides incentive for industry to clean up and it radically different than Abbott’s tax.
But none of this would be obvious if you only paid attention to the mass media.