The utopian world of political math

It’s said that taxation is the cost of a civil society. That analogy is hard to contest . . . unless it’s measured against what many refer to as “Tax Freedom Day.” The concept pegs a calendar date annually which benchmarks how many months and days we all work to pay all of our taxes in any given year.

Albertans are getting a stark reminder of how crippling the government’s carbon tax and expedited green energy plan can be to families. In recent years, it seems that every government at every level continues to fall back to taxation in one form or another to pay for things which they argue are necessities.

The NDP introduced a carbon tax which added cost to each component of every family’s essentials of life. Seemingly without a second thought they voted to close the gap between poverty and the ability to support every family. In a weak attempt to sell Albertans on their tax, the government heralded carbon tax rebates as a saving grace for those falling into lower income brackets. What they neglected to mention was that the rebate would only return a portion of–not the entire cost–of the tax that they put on everything.

Most Albertans understand that increasing taxation to support our health care, education, and infrastructure are a necessity to ensure our society functions. Unfortunately, successive governments have been unable to distinguish between what is and is not a necessity. Albertans, like most people worldwide, consider electricity a necessity. What they do not consider a necessity is retiring electrical infrastructure earlier than scheduled. Once again my offices have heard from shocked and stunned constituents who have to further tighten their belts to pay their electrical bills.

Utilities bills loaded with delivery and access charges that are often twice or even three times their actual usage are becoming common place. This creates an overwhelming burden for some families and is also jeopardizing some businesses. When people are choosing between heat, electricity, and food something is seriously wrong with that reality.

Granted, the price of oil and gas has affected Albertans in one form or another over the last few years, but adding costs to an already struggling population defies logic and common sense. The breakneck-speed at which Albertans are expected to pay for ill-timed and ill-advised projects in light of Alberta’s provincial debt and continued deficit budgets shows clearly that the ability for Alberta families and businesses to absorb this tax was not adequately considered.

It’s safe to say that most Albertans are on board with protecting the environment, however, that will not happen if their financial survival is compromised. The opposition party has backed off their commitment to repeal the carbon tax which they propose to leave in place for only big emitters.

The premise that this will alleviate the burden to average Albertans is utterly ridiculous. The carbon tax, regardless of where the tax burden is placed, is always passed down to the end user – that’s you, the taxpayer. Unlike what some would have you to believe, all input costs have to be factored into the selling price in order to remain on the positive side of profit and loss statements. In the theoretical utopian world of political financial mathematics, these costs can somehow be absorbed by the seller in some magical land where input costs evaporate between production and distribution.

NEXT COLUMN: A look at economic analytics of Alberta utility costs including rate comparisons which demonstrate accelerating costs which affect us all.