“Carbon Tax” Successful Reframing at its Best

I got into a debate over the weekend with a family friend. I learnt fairly quickly that nothing I said could alter the frustration the other felt over the “carbon tax”. This included pointing out an absurdly obvious fact; it’s not a tax.

I shouldn’t need to say it, but we all know the basics of tax. Put simply, a tax collects a fragment of one entity’s wealth for certain reasons, from establishing a “common wallet” to fund public based goods and services to the outright repugnant sequestering of wealth and lands by yesteryears lords and kings to pay largely for their lavish lifestyles.

What we have with carbon is unrelated directly with wealth, but instead the amount of greenhouse gases one’s activities are responsible for. A carbon neutral business could laugh themselves to the bank, because they do not pay, per unit, for their emissions. What we have on carbon is a price paid to emit. It is a price on carbon.

It continually amazes me how the most vocal against the price on carbon tend to want a market-based strategy; when that’s exactly what they bark so feverishly at! At the same time, they tend to be silent in the face of the real cost increases with power supply, of which, the carbon price is small.

As stated above, the cost effective approach is to reduce the emissions one is responsible for or, in other words, reduce one’s overheads! The price on carbon is a good place to start.

Yet, as I found over the weekend, no matter what I said, the word “tax” stuck. People hate tax, obviously (but one wonders how much this hatred compares to that six-month old pothole that has not been repaired due to a loss of public revenue) and so labelling it the “carbon tax” is a wonderful tool to mislead people into thinking that a portion of their hard-earned money has been swiped by the federal government against their will.

In reality, the price on carbon is essentially avoidable. And, if it works well, eventually it would fade itself out of existence.

I’ve harped on about it, however, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan is entirely funded by the taxpayer, either through increasing taxes or by removing standing services instead. Either way, it is an initiative entirely funded through the taxpayer’s expense. It is, unavoidable regardless how small your carbon footprint is. It is the true tax paid by everyone.

It remains, however, that the spin, “carbon tax” has seem to have worked, without any rationale behind it.

Associating a market-based strategy with mythical overbearing government propaganda has, in this case, switched off the minds of many, to crassly parrot back the same absurdities time and time again.

The Coalition has continually called it a “big fat tax” on everyone and “the economic wrecking ball” (that never was), with Greg Hunt dedicating a blog to the “carbon tax”. Christopher Monckton, too, has enjoyed this bandwagon with his latest tour; Carbon tax, climate scam, Agenda 21: can democracy survive all three? Lord Monckton does due diligence.

The “carbon tax” stands as a success campaign to mislead and ultimately undo the standing political leadership within Australia. It has been an excellent political manoeuvre that threatens to lead us well and truly to a carbon tax paid directly by the taxpayer. Sitting on the sidelines to this crazy affair, I’m amazed at how well the opposition have successfully plugged this bait and switch. They could put many marketing gurus to shame.

Greg Hunt’s unusually cool US winter that wasn’t

By Graham Readfearn.

OPPOSITION spokesperson on climate change Greg Hunt has been quoted across the news wires today as saying that while Australia has experienced its hottest summer on record, it’s been unusually cold elsewhere.

The story is based on an interview with ABC Radio, where Mr Hunt is commenting on a new report – The Angry Summer – from Australia’s Climate Commission. The report points out the role that climate change is playing in heatwaves, bushfires and floods.

The report comes just a week after the Bureau of Meteorology declared that Australia’s summer of 2012/2013 was the hottest on record. January 2013 was also Australia’s hottest month on record.

If you listen to the interview, Mr Hunt makes a point of saying that when considering global warming, we need to look at the long term trends rather than pick single events. Quite right.

To demonstrate this, he said that “we have had record cold temperatures in Russia, parts of the United States and China” over a similar period to Australia’s hottest summer on record.

Even in a warming world, you’ll still get record cold events – it’s just that the hot ones are outnumbering the cold ones. In Australia, for example, for every record cold temperature there’s three record hot ones. In the US, a 2009 study found record high temperatures were outstripping record colds by two to one.

I had a quick look at this unusually cold US winter which Greg Hunt alludes to. The government’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has all the figures. Incidentally, January 2013 is the 335th consecutive month where global average temperatures have been above average.

Final rankings for the US winter are not expected to be out for a week or so yet but, so far, the chilly winter turns out not to have been that chilly after all. In fact, the period November 2012 to January 2013 ranks 109th (with a rank of 1 indicating the coldest and 118 the warmest) in a record going back 118 years.

So there you go. As Mr Hunt says, best to check with the experts.

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