The Steele report


Here I go, sticking my toe into painfully hot water again.  This time let’s look at the carbon tax issue.  For deniers yes the climate is changing.  Yes, man has caused the change at a more rapid rate.  And yes we have to do something constructive to mend our way before it is too late.

At present many regions of the world are reacting like spoiled children refusing to clean their room.  Others are pointing fingers and claiming their mess is bigger than our mess.  There are those who don’t see a mess and still others that don’t care as long as the make a profit.

The next level features a group that will pay extra to continue to make a mess.  Also known as cap and trade.  The final group is the committee, working on how we measure things and who gets what.   I want to inform you of a sad fact.  Do you know what a camel is?  A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Governments and think tanks want to put the onus on you and I.  Punish us for using what they want to sell us.  Put a value on everything and charge for every bit of product.  When I started to drive gas was twenty-five cents a gallon.  Cigarettes were thirty-five cents per pack.  Soft drinks a dime with two cent deposit.   When they raised the gas price I didn’t board a transit bus, the reason I quit smoking twenty-three years ago had nothing to do with price, I realized the health risk.  Price is not the main factor in changing behavior.

Smoking became socially unacceptable through education and the same goes for drunk driving.  It had nothing to do with price.  It became socially unacceptable because we bought into the concept it was the right thing to do.  Opinions and social norms can be changed with the right message and a well thought out plan.

So what is the resistance to the climate change message?  To start with there is more than one message, some more dire than others.  People see through insincerity pretty fast.  Then there is the message the little guy is going to pay.  Combine that with the message we are all in this together.  The translation.  “We are all equal except that some are more equal than others”

Public perception is the carbon tax system is unfair, therefore there is no public buy in.  There are some remedies that could improve things and increase the perception of fairness.

First set international emission standards, for vehicles, and set a mandatory pollution reduction program.   Prosecute companies that violate the law with board of director prison sentences.  Impossible?  No. Iceland set the bar when they imprisoned crooked bankers in that country in the economic collapse in 2008.

One of the worst offenders is the manufacturing sector.  They put small amounts of product in oversized packaging and in many cases they use environmentally unfriendly packaging.

Instead of saying consumers should pay for the mess, make the manufacturer responsible for their product and packaging.

Real change would match the jolt to their bottom line.  In addition those who pollute should pay in relation to the damage they have done.  For serious and repeat offenders revoke their permits and licenses to operate.

With a shared responsibility the success rate of community or social buy in would increase.   So at the consumer level we have the argument plastic vs paper for example.  The answer is neither you bring your own cloth bags and we keep garbage out of the landfill.

There are any number of solutions before we engage in consumer carbon taxes.  To be open minded if things don’t change a carbon tax may be part of the future as a consequence of bad behavior.

The issue is not carbon tax, vs cap and trade,   It is about changing the mindset to recognize we have a shared responsibility to ourselves and each other.  This should be the work of our nations leaders on a world scale.  Instead what is happening is governments collectively are protecting the most serious offenders at the expense of consumers.  It is punishing us for buying their products.  But at the same time lets face it folks as complacent as we are it’s time to clean up our room,

Fred Steele

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