Green Tax Shift Supported by British Columbia Green Party Leadership
The below remarks were made during Spring 2000 by the leader of the Green Party of British Columbia, Canada.
Green Economic Policy
by Tom HetheringtonToday I want to share with you some the my thoughts on the NDP budget. As a social worker for the last 25 years, I have seen the hardship of those being pushed around by poverty and an economic system that for them lacks of hope. I have seen too many intelligent and capable young people lost to addiction and crime because the economic system offered them little alternative.
This situation must change. We must work together to build caring communities based on the principles of social justice and equality. However, we cannot pay for valuable social programs if we keep to our current economic course. Our current tax system is an example. Why are we taxing good things like labour and profit, things we want to encourage? We should be taxing the bad things, like excessive consumption, pollution, and resource depletion. The NDP just donít get it.
To claim that this budget is a green economy initiative is nothing more than hype. In the lead-up to the budget, NDP has made a lot of noise about their commitment to shifting taxes from personal income to environmentally destructive pollution and consumption Ė a move the Green Party has been demanding for years. However, despite the spin-doctoring we see only one minor tax shift project in this budget, that aimed at increasing fees on the five remaining beehive burners. This is not progress -Ė these beehive burners were supposed to be totally phased out years ago.
This budget is not a green initiative, itís a greenwash and just so much more NDP double-speak. The budget is not only a failed attempt at fiscal progress - its totally off the mark. The NDP just donít get it, any more than the Liberals do. Their whole way of thinking is outdated, the whole right versus left paradigm has died. The real question facing society is not how do we cut up the apple pie; it is the health of the tree.
Neo-classical economics completely fails to take in the big picture, we keep on spending our ecological inheritance like it was interest in the bank. It's not. There comes a point when you are just drawing on the capital -- we passed that point a long time ago. We have to start spending within our ecological means, or we will go bankrupt.
The Green Party economic policy differs from all of the other major parties. We believe that we must balance both our fiscal and environmental budgets.
We find it curious that most politicians run around talking about the need for balanced economic budgets yet fail to see need to balance our ecology budget. The Green Party has a realistic alternative to borrow or cut thinking; we call it tax shifting. We would tax pollution and not paychecks.
Our tax shift program is built on five points:
- by taxing pollution we would scrap small business taxes
- by taxing resource consumption we would slash income tax
- by taxing land values we would control urban sprawl
- by taxing high energy draw development projects we would encourage sustainable town centres
- by taxing automobile use we would ease grid lock and encourage public transit.
Green Party researchers tell me that the money generated from such a system would allow us to abolish personal income tax and reduce corporate income tax. Just think about it. All the provincial taxes taken off your paycheck in your pocket and most of it can stay there if you choose to help lighten the environmental load.
The Green economy that we would help build would not only abolish personal taxes, it would also put BC in the forefront of the green technologies needed to develop truly sustainable communities.
The tax shift approach would result in a retooling of capitalism. As it is now, almost all economic activity occurs at the price of the environment. In our new green capitalism, making money and improving environmental conditions would be part of the same process. Greens would put people to work in environmentally sustainable green collar jobs.
My critique therefore of this budget is about its lack of vision, it is just so much same old same old. It is not a budget to move us towards a balanced and sustainable future.
I urge people who care about the long term health of this province, regardless of their political stripe, to work with the Green party to build a comfortable, healthy and sustainable British Columbia. One that stops spending environmental principal as if it were environmental interest, and starts putting people to work in our forests, fields, and factories building the kind of green economy needed in the 21th century.
In closing, I understand that finance ministers when they bring down new budgets often put on new shoes. Well I think it is time that finance ministers forget the Armanis and put on work boots. We have got to put people to work building a sustainable green economy.
For lots more information, visit the Green Tax Shift Headquarters
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