Big and Everything?

BP’s oil spill and the “Big Tax on Everything”

Sometimes it takes a slight shift in perspective to reveal the implications of some of the sillier claims made in politics. This is very much the case when you analyse the Opposition Leader’s specious arguments on the subject of carbon pricing.

The story goes: if you “tax” or price carbon emissions at industry source, the dominant energy providers will simply increase prices so they can pass the cost on to consumers. This means the price on “everything” will go up.

Yep. That has a big measure of truth to it.

But long-term problems with this argument are easier to see if you simply understand that excessive carbon emissions must now be regarded as pollution, in pretty much the same way as say, the dumping of PCBs or cyanide.

Sure, carbon dioxide is part of the cycle of life on this planet, is necessary for the survival of life, and is even responsible for setting temperatures that made life as we know it possible in the first place. But as is the case with many things that are useful or necessary for modern life (another example is salt, and even water), there comes a point where a “spike” of unbalanced generation of excess quantities can amount to pollution, and deadly pollution at that.   Perhaps the recent Pakistan floods serve to remind us of just how deadly?

Climate research now indicates that we have passed the point where carbon emissions from human sources are “balanced”, and are heading hell-for-leather into the production of CO2 as life-threatening pollution.

Oils = Fuel = Pollution

To use a different example, we know that oil is naturally present in our environment, and has been found to be useful as a source of energy. But if oil is let loose in excessive quantities, as it obviously was in the recent Gulf of Mexico disaster, the threat to life and industry of many kinds is apparent, and steps need to be taken to clean it up and compensate the victims for the spill consequences.

To this end, President Obama was quick to impose on BP to cough up and set aside large sums to cover the costs of oil pollution, estimated to run to $20 billion dollars and more.

That’s a big slug. But in fact, of course, it’s the equivalent of a “Big Tax on Everything”.

Is there anyone out there that has any doubt as to whether BP, having forked out this kind of money, will be hefting the price it charges for oil ? And isn’t that increase then bound to be passed on to the consumer, affecting transports costs and the price of, well, …. Everything?

So logically, Opposition policy would preclude a Coalition government from doing anything like what Obama did ? It would preclude any action to get compensation from an oil company which is responsible for the pollution of say, the north-west coast of Western Australia?

Why do I doubt that that stance is what we can expect as official policy from the Coalition — although that’s what it appears to be, judging from its attitude to CO2 emissions?

Is the grand opposition to any “Big Tax on Everything” really a matter of principle, or is it rather a stance of convenience and contrariness that would disappear immediately in the face of a need to take real action?

Maybe we should have it spelt out that the Liberal Party is totally opposed to imposing penalties on polluters who cause a national disaster. Now there’s a brave policy to take to the polls!

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About petermaus

Former journalist, political and current affairs reporter/producer. Former media adviser to ALP and later Senior Adviser to Federal Minister. More recently, 20 years as technical writer in the computer industry, so entitled to claim to have demonstrated evidence of true penitence.
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