Thursday, 13 September 2007

What would 'Party X 'do about the environment? Part 1: 'Un'taxes

Continuing the serialisation of my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about rolling back the state without any new coercion. (Intro is here.) This morning, Untaxes:

1. Not Eco Taxes or Subsidies, but Untaxes,
Helen Clark says she wants a sustainable nation. Jeanette Fitzsimons says she wants a really and truly sustainable nation. And Nick Smith says he wants what they’re having with a side order of bullshit thrown in.

All of them blather on about the need for grass roots eco businesses and sustainable alternative technologies, yet between them they make it near impossible for alternative technologies and grass roots businesses to thrive. All of them waffle on about subsidies for this and grants for that and assistance with the other, and at the same time they talk about “sin” taxes to discourage so called polluters like the energy companies who produce the power that keeps our lights on.

I say that’s bullshit. The only thing that’s truly sustainable is stuff that stands on its own two feet. Stuff that’s economically sustainable. If a profit can't be turned on all these schemes for solar panels and wind farms and for turning banana skins into biofuel, then those schemes shouldn’t exist. If they can’t turn a profit, then they’re a waste of the resources that Helen Clark and Jeanette Fitzsimons and Nick Smith say are so scarce.

But what new business gets a chance to turn a profit when they’re buried under tax and compliance costs? We know that tax is theft. We know that how you run your company is your business. Why not let at least some companies be free of the burden and show just how their profits rise when they’re not being taxed to hell and when they’re not burdened by paperwork and by bureaucrats.

And why not let the current fad for green shit help drive this unburdening, and let the eco warriors themselves learn at first hand that free trade and profits are always superior to subsidies and socialism.

What I suggest is that eco industries, eco businesses and eco products be made totally tax free, and that all these eco industries be freed as much as possible from the regulations and compliance costs imposed by the likes of the Resource Management Act (RMA), collecting and calculating GST and minimum wage laws.

Let’s say for example you’re doing research and development on micro-power producers or wave turbines, or trying to erect and bring on stream small and economically viable hydro stations or domestic wind turbines. All are potentially viable and small alternatives to the Big Thinking state-owned and state-controlled power producers (the state always Things Big, doesn’t it), but not when burdened by Kafka-esque problems with resource consents (for which the large producers maintain a large staff to make opposing submissions), by the compliance costs that weigh down every business, and by taxes on research and development and production, and on any profits that might be made down the line.

I say let’s help out. Let’s help out every business we can.

Let’s free up “eco” businesses, and at once we liberate at least some businesses from the shackles of the grey ones (and perhaps help kick start some fashionable export industries selling to the gullible overseas, and initiate the partial removal of the RMA and other onerous laws and regulations). At the same time we demonstrate the power to produce when the shackles of statism are removed, we lay down a serious challenge to the prophets of sustainability that requires them to objectively define what they mean by sustainability so that investors and the grey ones know clearly and in advance what an eco industry actually looks like.

Sure, this don’t give every business a break, but with eco untaxes, at least there’s more freedom and no new coercion, and nothing here that the eco warriors shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to sign up to.

It’s a start, right.
[Tune in tomorrow for policy proposal number two: Coming to the Nuisance.]


  1. PC: It is not earth-shatteringly surprising that your proposed suggestion for supporting eco-business fits delightfully into that giant sweater knitted by Ayn Rand for all her devoted acolytes so many years ago. After all, one size fits all, eh?

    Yes, knock me down with a feather, the answer is...reduce regulation and tax. Strewth! Blimey! Generic expression of disbelief!

    Let's hope your remaining six schemes contain a little more in the way of exciting, original thought!


  2. So what would you do denny boy? Introduce more tax. March people off into the green camps?



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