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The Green Shift: evil marxist plot or subtly (c)onservative policy?

With regards to the Green Shift, it’s interesting to me that there are some folks out there who describe this Green Shift plan the Liberals are advocating as the work of Marxists, all designed to enslave Western Canada and enrich the East, while paradoxically, Andrew Coyne, that famous socialist columnist at Macleans, describes the current state of affairs – at least with regards to environmental policy – as the Liberals becoming like the Conservatives and the Conservatives turning into the 1970’s version of the NDP:

This is simply extraordinary. Where the Liberals talk of using price signals and harnessing market forces, the Tories now boast of their commitment to top-down, command-and-control regulations. Its all prohibit this and require that, as opposed to the Liberals, who would gasp! allow companies to pay more to pollute! The importance of this shift cannot be overstated. For fifty years or more, conservatives have preached that taxes affect peoples behaviour, that incentives matter, that if you tax something, you get less of it. But now, suddenly, they dont matter not when compared to the miracle of regulation. For fifty years or more, conservatives have also said that prices are the vital signalling device of a market economy, informing consumers, workers, investors and businesses as to the costs of different choices. But now, suddenly, theyre irrelevant. Subsidies sorry, investments are the new Tory orthodoxy.

Some other prominent people (and apparently socialist/Marxist folks, if they support this, if I were to believe the label some conservative and libertarian bloggers are painting on anyone who advocates this) that have commented on this include the President of the economic think-tank CD Howe Institute, who rejects the notion that the Green Shift is “NEP II” as some westerners claim; or how about that Trotskyite Tom D’Acquino, president of the radical left-wing group, The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, who has been on record before as supporting a carbon tax, and if you read between the lines, prefers the Liberal Green Shift plan to the Conservatives current facade of a plan on the environment.

So I guess that means either there are a lot more socialists out there in Canada then people think, or more likely, some people just don’t know what they’re talking about when they accuse Dion and the Federal Liberals of being socialists, and the Green Shift as being Marxist orthodoxy, when it’s using the very “market forces” that conservatives and libertarians so often cry is the best way to solve problems. In this case, that rule flies out the window, and the tactics of fear and smear are being used to try to convince the unsuspecting populace that this is just a trojan horse of a plan designed to instill environmental Marxism on us all. Fortunately, I don’t think a good majority of Canadians are going to believe that fear and smear stuff.


12 comments to The Green Shift: evil marxist plot or subtly (c)onservative policy?

  • Hi Scott and guests,
    It is quite an honour to be the subject of such a lively discussion! 😉

    Yes I went ballistic over the Green Shift…and rightly so. I am old enough to remember the National Energy Program, and the devastating impact it had on the Alberta economy. We in Saskatchewan are finally beginning to enjoy some long-awaited prosperity in our province, but the Green Shift would kill that prosperity; Dion admitted to such on a popular radio call-in show in Saskatoon this past week. So my allegations of a wealth transfer were bang on.

    Perhaps I went over the top calling the Green Shift ‘Marxist’, but unless you are from my part of the world, you have no idea what kind of an emotional and political firestorm the Green Shift has set off in the West. I am a loyal Canadian, but I have also heard rumblings of Western Separation if this carbon tax goes through. What concerns me about these rumblings, is that they are coming from urban, educated people – not the type who would normally support Western Separation. This issue is as emotional in the West, as the school issue was in Ontario in last year’s provincial election, times ten.

    I like to think there is a spectrum of libertarianism. I most certainly am a libertarian – I believe in individual rights, freedom from government coercion wherever such is reasonable to do so, smaller government, and a limited role for the state to provide core services and assist individuals who need help through no fault of their own. Technically, I identify as a liberaltarian…obviously you disagree…we will agree to disagree.

    One more thing…I object to being called a boob and CPC-hack – I don’t belong to the CPC, and all of you have been welcome to post comments on my blog in the past and continue to enjoy that privilege.

    I’ll shut up now and let you resume your discussion.

  • Moebius

    I like to think of myself as a left-leaning libertarian. That makes the socially liberal, fiscally conservative Green Party a good fit for me.

    I’m not sure that actually exists. I’m also a socially liberal, fiscal conservative, but I don’t see how the Greens will make that happen.

  • Ted

    Lenin called them “useful idiots”

  • I’m curious what part of Das Kapital calls on good Communists to ignore trademarks and copyrights.

    And here I thought the troubles were caused by CPC zealots complaining to them as part of a dirty tricks campaign. Silly me, its the ideological result of being a good Communist.

    BTW, when did it suddenly become 1962 again?

    Communists? Please, passe since 1989…

  • Originally Posted By Prairie Kid

    If the plan isn’t Marxist, then the exploitation of a small company who has used the name for 8 years certainly is.

    I guess you need something else to complain about since Coyne just showed that any talk of this being a marxist plan is nonsense.. but if the best you can come up with is whining about a trademark dispute over the name.,.. you Cons really are in a heap of trouble. I could care less about the name, nor do I suspect, do other Canadians care what it’s called – its the policy that matters.. and initial indications show lots of favourable opinion in the public for this.

  • Libertarian socialist? Oh, no. I’m not calling myself that. No way.

    That being said, real estate and the free market do not mesh well.

    Several years ago, I wrote on real estate and the free market. Did a post called ‘Rent Rape’.

    Back to the issue at hand…

    It costs money to reduce CO2 emissions. We’ve had voluntary compliance in effect on this issue for a very long time, and emissions have gone way up.

    I know that the libertarian argument would point to many other things needing to be changed in our economy, and then, presto! voluntary compliance would work, but as those changes are not happening, we have to work within the economic and social framework we currently have.

    Tax shifting has worked in Europe to reduce emissions.

    Externalities such as pollution, especially a ‘silent’ pollution like CO2, are kept out of the cost-of-goods sold equation because in of itself polluting incurs no costs to manufacturers. When you ask these folks to do so, they just tell you they can’t afford it, or that global warming doesn’t exist.

    The free market employs caveat emptor, remember.

    No, including it in the price has to be forced. A tax shift is the least intrusive as it is simply trying to make price reflect reality.

  • Scott,

    Well, its been in a few places. And I realize the Sask Liberal party is probably like the BC Liberals party…


    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Whooee! I like to think of myself as a left-leaning libertarian. That makes the socially liberal, fiscally conservative Green Party a good fit for me. I also like to distill entire, complex philosophies down to bumper sticker size. Libertarianism = “Live and let live.”

    The big arguments come in when we define what is meant by “let live.” Poisoning the shared atmosphere is not in keeping with my view of libertarianism.


  • @Mike

    Well.. John is actually a member of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party, not a CPC hack as far as I know. I don’t need to go over his outbursts at the site against the Federal Liberals for being marxists, because everyone can read that for themselves.

    PS – not sure what posts you’ve been reading that are portraying “libertarians” as being in a bad light.. I think there are a fair # that take issue with John’s classification of them and/or certain parties they support as being “marxists”… but you’ve just claimed he isn’t a libertarian.. so you cant use his blog as an example… and I’ve not seen any blogs at Prog publicly calling him out.

  • I think I speak for most actual libertarians when I say that despite his protestations to the contrary, John Murney is not a libertarian.

    I’m begining to see a partern where ‘libertarian’ has become the new ‘terrorist’ or ‘traitor’ on the Prog Blogs – a boogey man watch-word that is somehow supposed to insult those who disagree with you, rather than engaging in their arguements.

    A libertarian is merely someone who advocates for little or no government, that believes in private property and (truly) free markets – voluntary and consetual echanges between individuals. You can have small government libertarians (“minarchists”) and no government libertarians (“market anarchists” like me) or libertarian socialists (“anrcho-communists” like Eugene Plawiuk) (althought libertarian socialists would add that rather than “private” property, property is owned communally, but still via voluntary association).

    The one thing all of these brands of libertarian have in common is the belief in a voluntary associations without threat OR favour from a centralized governemnt. Decentralized, voluntary society by any other meaning.

    Really, our old Red Tory tradition – socially liberal and fiscally conservative – is closer to libertarian than anything else.

    I am among many libertarians that accept that climate change is real and created by human activilty. I would disagree on the best way to go about fighting it. I see subsidies, taxes and regulations as contributions to the problem. I would advocate less or no government interference (both against AND for various sectors), rather than trying to fix a problem exacerbated if not caused by government regulation and taxation, by imposing more of the same.

    Now given that, who in their right mind would think that anything the Conservatives are doing is remotely libertarian?

    Just because some right-wing boob or CPC hack says they are libertarian doesn’t mean they are.

    BTW, that’s quite the non-sequitor there PK…a little early for drinking isn’t it?

  • Prairie Kid

    If the plan isn’t Marxist, then the exploitation of a small company who has used the name for 8 years certainly is.

  • Just to add to the confusion, the NDP consider it right-wing nonsense, yet the first country to use tax shifting — and it was very successful — was Sweden back in 1991. Other countries run using socially democratic values also adopted the policy.

    Tax shifting was brought to Canada via greens. It is heavily endorsed by the Green Party of Ontario, which has a heavy libertarian slant. Having been on that party’s executive, and the riding CFO for that party’s leader, I can attest to the political leanings.

    The whole goal of tax shifting is to have prices reflect all normally external costs (pollution, social upheaval) in order to allow consumers to make choices based upon clear economics as to how to aportion the rewards of their efforts — efforts which are less taxed, by the way, because taxing effort is considered stupid (libertarian ideal).

    The issue with the Green Shift is that it is unclear to people if the tax cut and tax credit end of it is also being used to over-compensate people in lower income brackets, thus serving as an anti-poverty initiative though the back door.

    See what BigCityLib has to say about it, and my response in his comments.

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