Carbon scheme's cost: "brownouts, high fuel taxes and lost jobs" - Macleans.ca

Carbon scheme’s cost: “brownouts, high fuel taxes and lost jobs”

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I refer, of course, to the Conservative carbon scheme. My source is Jack Mintz, the noted Communist leftard economist, writing in that biased MSM rag, the National Post.

To be fair, Mintz (whose piece a month ago has probably not received enough attention; at least, until this morning, it hadn’t received any from me) says the brownouts, layoffs and massive terrifying Gotham-style chaos “could” be a result of the Conservatives’ carbon policy, Turning the Corner. “Could” because it depends on (a) the Conservatives actually following their plan (b) large emitting corporations reaching into their own backsides and failing to fish out the large quantities of horseshoes that would give them the luck they need to avoid nasty side effects.

If the Conservatives follow their policy and the oil patch’s luck is only fair, then things get really nasty really fast.

Saith the Mintz: “both the Liberal and Conservative plans” are “complex and highly interventionist in the economy.” The Tory plan’s emissions intensity targets kick in fast, by 2010; companies — for the plan applies only to companies, increasing their burden by giving you and me a break — can buy their way out by “contributing,” under criminal penalty, to a technology fund, which Mintz calls “essentially an earmarked tax.”

Oops, did I say the Conservative plan gives you and me a break? I forgot my Andrew Coyne: There are no corporations, only individuals. “The effect of the plan will largely fall on consumers and businesses purchasing energy-intensive products,” Mintz writes. “The Conservatives have not been straightforward” — I know this will surprise and sadden many of you — because the costs incurred “must result in higher consumer prices or lost jobs.”

Which is where we get to brownouts, job losses, dogs and cats living together, and so on. Onerous early targets and insufficient offsets would lead to the above-delineated unpleasantness.

“Given these uncertainties,” Mintz writes, “many U.S. and Canadian businesses prefer a carbon tax.” Like Dion’s? It has much to recommend it in his view — but it’s not regionally neutral enough, because cost is incurred in one part of the country and benefits enjoyed elsewhere. That’s because Dion chose to pay for child tax benefits and anti-poverty programs with the carbon tax’s windfall, instead of putting revenues back into green effort through clean-energy tax credits.

Indeed, that’s what makes Mintz conclude that the Liberal plan is, in some ways, “weaker than the Conservative plan” because the Conservatives’ is “more directed at reducing carbon.”

But but but. The Conservatives can’t have it both ways: their plan is only stronger than the Liberals’ if it is applied in such a way as to impose onerous deadlines and real costs on emitters. So they can’t claim their plan is tougher at the same time as they complain about the costs of Dion’s.

Of course, when I use phrases like “can’t have it both ways” and “they can’t claim,” I mean they certainly will claim and they probably can have it both ways. This is the evolving John Baird Two-Step, which the minister has rehearsed in a few interviews this summer: Why put up with the nasty cost of the Liberal tax scheme, when you can have the much tougher, more responsible Conservative plan instead?

It’s a profoundly disingenuous argument. I sure wouldn’t want to have to campaign against it.