Manifesto for the Little People
by Jo Abbess
27th May 2008
Feeling the Carbon Crunch yet ?
Like the Protesting Anarchic Lorry Drivers of Great Britain, I bet you are.
New Labour top-rankers would do well not to grimace or curl their lips back. The poor and desperate are always slightly disgusting, but they are fellow citizens, and voters as well.
Now would be a good time to seize a huge advantage from the Conservative Party by advancing both the cause of the increasingly impoverished and the State of the Environment, in a tax reform so bold it would shine your boots before breakfast.
Yes, New Labour can offer tax cuts and Climate Change policy, all rolled into one fat cigar, stealing back support at a most pertinent moment.
Here’s how it goes :-
(a) Accept the fact that the supply of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels has reached a flat plateau, a crest of production, and that from here on in, the supply will fall. [ PEAK OIL, PEAK NATURAL GAS ]
(b) Accept that, automatically, and quite naturally, the prices of all energy, manufactured and agricultural products are being forced to rise dizzyingly by the economics of scarcity.
(c) Determine that the poorest in Society will be affected the most deeply by this new pricing regime for food, fuel and home energy.
(d) Project that any form of Green Taxation will be resisted as people will be already struggling to cope with inflation.
(e) Accept the grim reality that the notion of taxing polluting activities in order to curb them cannot be made to work with Carbon Dioxide, as everything we do in our Society is dependent on Carbon Dioxide Emissions.
(f) Calculate how the squeeze on the pockets of the poorest from rising energy prices will strip away the profit-base of many businesses, both small and large. Projecting “demand destruction” away from goods and services as the customers become too poor to buy should focus attention on how businesses could be hobbled or crippled.
(g) Determine that the best kind of re-arrangement would incorporate a “safety margin” for those at the bottom of the wealth pyramid.
Here’s the proposal :-
(1) Completely remove Income Tax obligations (and Family Tax Credit topups rights) from those earning less than the Median wage – the largest number of people earning the same amount – at roughly £15,000 per annum. This should cut out a massive amount of administration and focus the tax authorities on collecting where the amounts of tax revenue possible are more significant. The poorest will then be able to absorb inflationary costs on household spending, and this will serve to stabilise the Economy.
(2) Take a Green Fund Windfall Tax from the big energy companies, transparently used to purchase nationally-owned Renewable Energy stations.
(3) Set up a Green Corps, an engineering group managed in the way that the Army is, that will do home insulation, construct community-scale Renewable Energy infrastructure and assist in flood prevention and environmental-disaster rescue. This group would be very useful in creating employment.
(4) Give each person paying National Insurance (Social Security) the option to also pay a little extra into the Green Corps funding.
(5) Issue each Citizen, working or not, with an Energy Quota certificate, effectively an annual guarantee of being permitted to purchase energy and fuel without any extra tax or charge, up to the quota level.
Those with special needs will of course need Energy Credits to compensate them and make their quota larger.
(6) Set a price for buying Energy Permits over and above the Quota, and use this revenue also to pay for Renewable Energy Technology infrastructure.
The future for Energy is Low Carbon, and the path to Low Carbon must be financed somehow, even as inflationary pressures on the cost of living keep mounting.
(7) As time goes by, and de-Carbonisation of industry, electricity generation and transport is delivered, Energy Quotas will come to mean all forms of energy, not just Carbon-based. Any exceedence of the national quota will generate revnue to put further Low Carbon energy production infrastructure in place.
It’s a bold green vision, and would get us out of the stagnant dependency on mined energy. If New Labour can begin to grasp the problem with Carbon, they will see that tinkering with vehicle and fuel taxation will not solve the rapidly unstable Economy.
We need radical forms of pricing and taxation, for energy and fuel, and we need to protect the poorest from destitution, blackouts and cold lives.