In the budget announced this week in Victoria, the government of British Columbia brought in a measure that's been getting a lot of attention: the carbon tax. It's adding a couple of cents per litre (or gigajoule) of fossil fuel as of July 1, and while there's the usual mixed reaction -- some environmentalists think it's great ... other environmentalists say "it's a good first step but much more needs to be done" (a annoyingly recurring theme from that sector) ... taxpayer groups say it's another tax grab ... and ordinary working stiffs who have to drive to make their living are upset at seeing another increase in the cost of doing business over which they have no control.
But something that seems to have slipped through the cracks is ... THIS IS THE FIRST (that I can think of) TAX DESIGNED TO MODIFY BEHAVIOUR!
Yes, there have been the "sin taxes", but those were never proposed to force people to stop doing whatever it was they were doing -- not overtly, anyway. Cigarette and liquor taxes are purportedly to pay for the health care costs associated with smoking and drinking. Recycling fees are supposed to pay for the costs of recycling things like tires and batteries. The levy on blank CDs and tapes, while interesting in that it presumes that the purchaser intends to use them to break copyright laws, is not intended to get people to stop breaking copyright laws. But practically any time this "carbon tax" has been discussed, the talk has been that it will "get people out of their cars and onto public transit".
It is, in fact, a punitive tax with a negative-inference reward: be a good chap and stop driving your private vehicle or using so much energy, and you won't have to pay this nasty tax.
In other words ... behaviour modification. "Voodoo economics" -- literally.
*** BLATANT PLUG ALERT ***
In my book, A Very Convenient Truth, we discuss how Satan has gotten his hands into all aspects of the environmental issue, and that the whole thing has become a cornucopia of Satan's Hot Hits -- the various elements that are present, and which are Satan's playground. One of these is witchcraft, in the sense that that is the word that applies to any attempt to force someone to change their thinking.
Even if the cause appears honorable, witchcraft is still witchcraft. Change that is forced from the outside never truly takes hold. If the price of gasoline truly caused people to pursue alternatives, they would have stopped driving long ago. When I was at CFAX Radio in Victoria several years ago, we had an online poll, which asked "at what stage will the price of gasoline cause you to stop driving?" The majority said they'd be mad enough to stop driving when the price hit (are you sitting down?) 75 c/litre.
Well, 75 cents a litre is an impossible dream now, from the other side ... and people are still driving. A couple of pennies more for a "carbon tax"? I doubt it.
People will change their behaviour when they are truly convinced that it's the right thing to do. It's the same as with anything else in life: change must come on the inside. That's why God lays out the good and the bad, the blessing and the cursing, the life and the death, and leaves us to choose. He makes it abundantly clear which He wants us to chose ... and He makes it abundantly clear that the good/blessing/life choice is wonderful beyond our wildest expectations ... but He leaves the choice up to us. He knows we're rebellious by nature, and that if He imposes His Will on us, we'll never truly accept it: and that's what He really wants from us ... to truly accept His Will and His Love and His Blessings.
And, oh by the way ... if we do that, He will take care of the land -- and everything else.
(A Very Convenient Truth is now available at the Christian Book and Music Centre in Victoria, with more bookstores to come: or you can order it by contacting me through the "comments".)