People are always very skeptical about the idea of yet another tax. The 2012 election in the United States brought many things to light. One was that people felt they learned the truth about Mitt Romney and his view toward what he considers the “under-taxed” percent of citizens. These citizens already believe they are taxed enough.
However, the idea of taxing people for their use of carbon, which in high amounts has sped global heating, is an entirely untried and beneficial exercise in allowing more choice about what taxes they pay and how they pay them.
A vast gulf opened up between the very rich and the struggling middle class and underclass when election campaigns highlighted tax inequity. The idea of yet another tax therefore, goes quickly sour in the minds of all three of these classes. But, if one were to consider that instead of taxing income, which is hard earned, people had the choice to be taxed instead upon how much carbon they consume, a new system would quickly benefit all three societal tiers. This is true even if the highest tiers or the 1 percent were to fight to the death to preserve the dirty fuels and “Drill, baby, drill” self-enriching ideology, which is proven to be unsustainable and now fading away.
There are many, many advantages to such a system. Especially given the IRS scandal of 2013, people are fed up with income taxes and the power of the government to, in effect, fine them for working hard. But a carbon tax would tax consumption, which is almost the opposite of taxing income. Income generation produces carbon emissions in the form of rush hour, petrochemical-based agriculture, job commutes, industry and more. But a tax upon that carbon use would effectively provide incentive for people to emit less carbon.
Think about this. Instead of being taxed on income, you are free to goods and services, live off the grid, grow community food, save money and energy, have a more simple and healthy life and choose whether you want to go into debt buying carbon-based products. Most people will opt to invest their hard-earned money into their lifestyles, freedom and community, rather than to pay for their income.
The need to switch over to clean and green energy sources is now very evident to most people. They understand that fossil fuels contributed not just to a degraded planet, but also to the disparity between rich and poor. Most of all, people realized that fossil fuel helped sustain the economic boom and bubble that was very quickly burst when easy credit, like easy oil, was exposed as fundamentally unsustainable.
The last holdouts are international corporate titans. They are completely entrenched with corporate loopholes and looting. Yet there are many more conscientious people than there are corporate profiteers. The freedom-loving populace would insist that the burden of fossil fuel external costs (now paid by taxpayers) would shift to those corporations who profit by it. Once they are accountable for damage, such industries would work overtime to clean up their acts. The fact of diminishing returns, less fuel collected for ever more dollars invested, will quickly result in even the oiliest, slickest corporations acting sensibly.
That is why any incentive toward investing in a green economy, thriving jobs market, new industry, technology and innovation are all aspects toward social responsibility: shifting the emphasis of taxes on earning to an emphasis on taxes on taking and consuming. People who want lower taxes would automatically use less carbon. They already feel this is the right thing to do, but are at the mercy of the old, monolithic tax- and oil–addicted culture of the “last gasping” past. Profiteers would object and feel threatened, but so did slaveholders and industries that feared women being paid equally would destroy the economy by taking the “men’s jobs and wages.”
As in any forward movement, there would be great resistance. Those that center on short-term profits will not be able to see the long-term benefits. They would enlist their employees to support old tax systems at the threat of those employees losing their jobs. But people are not stupid. Eventually they would realize that a green and clean job economy benefits their family and community much more in the long term. People who appreciate a higher quality of life, in which they can breathe freely without guilt and with great pride, will recreate this world.