Fuel Tax/Rebate About Politics, Not Performance

By Ted Mitchell
Published March 29, 2007

I detest the thought process that opts for binary tools to address a non-binary problem. Worse than that, binary designations can be hijacked by arbitrary exceptions.

Jim Flaherty's new gas guzzler tax/rebate, which goes by the name "ecoAuto", is exactly that kind of screw-up.

For the record, like the Green Party. I am all for greatly increasing fuel tax while decreasing income and residential taxes; it is just the most fair method of reforming taxation.

But, if you assume that raising the gas tax at the pump is complete political suicide, then we need to implement point-of-purchase taxes and rebates.

There are two logical concepts to base this on:

  1. Fuel economy; and
  2. Emissions

How to do this?

1. Fuel Economy

Take the current average fuel economy, and assign that zero tax. Then decide how big a carrot you want ($2000) and give that to the most fuel efficient automobile (Toyota Prius).

Next, decide how big a stick you need ($4,000) and assign that to whatever is the guzzler of the year, based on government tested fuel economy, and scale the tax/rebate accordingly for everything in between.

2. Emissions

Since air quality is also important, this also needs to be part of the rating. As for fuel consumption, emissions data exist for specific vehicles (I do not believe this is listed online, perhaps because automotive companies like it that way, but you could go to Drive Clean and complain), and the same scaling can be done as above.

This is not just a duplication of fuel economy rankings. For example, conventional diesels will rank poorly, and soon-to-be-introduced clean diesels will do very well.

Such a program would not applaud or discriminate against any given technology such as ethanol. It is simply performance based.

Of course, exemptions could be submitted for, say, minivans for a family with four children and trucks for farmers. Oh yeah, I forgot (are you sitting down?): all pickup trucks are already completely exempt!

That kinda erases whatever the hybrids accomplish, dontcha think?

It is really sad that we could easily have had a simple, progressive, fair program. Instead, we have an ineffective binary bullshit program based on scoring political points.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 30, 2007 at 13:54:09

Harper cares more about buying votes than he cares about doing the right thing. This weeks view has a great line by Sarah Veale, "the Green Levy designed to tax gas guzzlers into oblivion has a loop hole big enough to drive an SUV throuth"

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