Wednesday, 15 June 2011

It’s not de-funding, it’s equitably taxing

In my email today, I had an advertisement for Credo Mobile Phones given to me by the American journal Mother Jones (MoJo). I had never expected it to be an advertisement, but the point of de-funding the greenhouse sceptics is one which really needs serious attention.

Greenhouse sceptics are very marginal in most of the world today. However, in non-academic suburbs and rural areas of Australia they are essentially mainstream, yet greenhouse-sceptic opinions among Australia’s politicians do not result from the car-dependence of Australia’s low-density suburbs. They result instead from Australia’s surfeit of mineral and energy resources, which in turn gives greenhouse-emitting industries in Australia unique wealth and hence political influence.

As I have explained many times before, most countries in Eurasia and the Americas do not have any significant deposits of major lithophile metals, and the less energy-intensive chalcophile metals are too scarce in the crust to be a long-term resource. This allows the overwhelming scientific view that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are the cause of observed global warming to be universal in parliaments.

The results are that governments of these countries, which actually have no need for environmental regulations, are able to plan for a rapid transition to renewable energy and electric cars or mass transit. The social costs of a selfish and inhospitable culture and the potential for a demographic time bomb of extreme old age dependency ratios are very great. There is likewise no doubt that government regulation, as Johan Surkyn and Ron Lesthaeghe have shown in their relationship between government size and religion (which determines how gentle and hospitable a culture is), is the cause of the extremely selfish and inhospitable cultures dominant in Europe, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand today. (In fact, this character of these cultures may worsen Australia’s destructive carbon emissions by encouraging people who might consider migrating to these countries to settle in the gentler culture of suburban Australia).

In Australia, by contrast, mineral companies have had virtually complete control over the country’s energy policies ever since the first lithophile mining boom of the 1950s. Their complete control was seen in the dreadful Lonie Report of 1980 - written not by urban planners or economists but by the chiefs of Broken Hill Proprietaries and the Country Roads Board - and in Australia’s laggardly status with renewable energy and emissions reductions. Those within and outside Australia who wish for the country to improve its emissions from the highest per capita to the lowest (the only acceptable situation) need to realise that this grip on policy by corporations with great wealth and vested interests in unrestricted emissions in their hands must be broken completely for anything to be achieved.

My opinion - strange as it might seem - is that corporate taxes really must be judged on the natural inorganic resources available. Whilst I do not deny that high taxes can lead to inefficiency, even Kevin Williamson admits that when they become wealthy enough corporations are able to control governments - and nowhere is this more possible or real than in Australia. Even if taxes on corporations in the Enriched World are undoubtedly excessive, those in the Unenriched World may be quite inadequate. Indeed, Australia’s 30 percent company tax allows corporations more political influence than a tax haven would permit in the Enriched World, whereas similar rates in Europe stifle economic and family development completely. Capping mining income would, as I said in my last post, not affect Australia’s mineral output significantly and would give a genuine opportunity to give Australia a public transit system superior to any in the Enriched World. It would also mean that Australia could invest in solar power without having demands of the fossil fuel industry on its back.

The trouble is that Australia’s working class - the people whose duty it should be to do this - live comfortable lives that protesting would greatly disturb. More than that, those in Western Australia - the very state whose climate has become unrecognisable from pre-1969 climates purely via man-made global warming - is the state whose working masses rejected the mining tax most vehemently, even those in southwestern Australia whose rainfall has declined by fifty percent and judging by the last five years is declining at an exponential rate.

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