The answer, say the loudest bleaters, is to extract the pure essence of a lost conservatism and transplant it into a brand new body – aka the Wildrose Party of Alberta. But this fix has some deep structural flaws, the first of which being a penchant for simplistic solutions to otherwise complex and near-intractable problems. Suppressing hydrocarbon royalties and exonerating corporations from their rightful obligations to the fiscal health of the province are what got us in this mess in the first place. And this has been exacerbated by a lazy and reactionary refusal to do anything substantive about diversifying a dangerously narrow and top-heavy economy, including taxing a planet-threatening pollutant..
So, let’s be clear – and let’s not be surprised. The carbon tax as rolled out by our NDP government represents a fundamental tenet of socialist economic thinking, that being the principle of the redistribution of wealth. For as the venerable Frank H. Underhill would have had it – “The basic principle regulating production, distribution and service must be the common good rather than private profit.” This tax is deemed revenue-neutral inasmuch as the monies accrued do not go into general pool, but rather are immediately returned back into the economy, either in the form of rebates for those less able to bear the cost of the tax, exemptions for farm-fuel, or into grants and incentives for those seeking to advance alternative-energy business models and thereby advance the aforementioned sorely-needed economic diversification, not to mention begin to seriously address the mounting problems stemming from a general and alarming warming of the atmosphere. And perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of Wildrose/PC blathering is this wholesale bowing-down before some semi-mythical ‘free market’ and allowing for the unfettered play of ‘market forces’. Come on – give your heads a shake. Does anybody seriously think that rural electrification, Medicare, labour rights, child labour laws, workers’ compensation, foreclosure protection, market access, fair commodity pricing, social security, and the Alberta Wheat Pool came about as a result of market forces? Quite the opposite. Indeed, as Henry Wise Wood, former President of the United Farmers of Alberta and Chair of Alberta Wheat Pool observed – “Democracy may be simply defined as the people in action.” Yep.
Outside of the murky recesses of Donald Trump’s brain or the Steering Committee of the Wildrose Party of Alberta, it has now become general economic orthodoxy in all advanced jurisdictions to either levy a carbon tax or implement a cap and trade scheme to do exactly what climate-change deniers profess to be their holy of holies – submit carbon emissions to the robust winds of the marketplace. Because it will only be through the progressively-added cost of sticking to a hydrocarbon economy that we begin to create viable alternative methods of generating wealth. It must become unprofitable to pollute. The marketplace is ten thousand years old – it wasn’t invented by mercantile capitalists. And it is certainly not the exclusive plaything of trans-national corporations and their one-percenter fat-cat operators. It belongs to us.
So let’s get on with things. History is relentless in its advance. Wildrose stands with its mouth agape just like the bellowing dinosaurs of old who dumbly witnessed the advancing asteroid. The difference now is that we are able to still mitigate and deflect to the extent possible this onrushing ‘asteroid’ of climate change. Let us therefore be thankful for the bravery and forthrightness of Rachel Notley who has the wisdom and foresight to see in the advancing calamity of our times the opportunity to shift ourselves up by the seat of the pants and actually move forward along our evolutionary pathway. The alternative to action is submission, acquiescence, and fatalism. And such is the behaviour of sheep on their miserable way to the stockyards – bleating uselessly all the way.
Related: Carbon rapture and porridge