by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
You know you’ve got a problem when your tax schemes are even being rejected by the French. While there’s always a danger in reducing the causes of political unrest to a single issue, the plan to impose yet another regressive $9 billion annual carbon tax proved to be a catalyst for the “yellow vest” protests that are roiling Paris.
The nonviolent version of the French carbon-tax revolt is spreading globally, too. Last November, Washington state voters rejected a very well-funded effort to pass the first ballot-approved carbon tax ever. The province of Ontario is suing the Canadian government to block a federal carbon tax there. According The Wall Street Journal, “the issue could topple the Alberta government and perhaps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.” The Journal adds, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Energiewende—a transition to renewables that has increased dirty coal emissions and caused household energy costs to soar—has become a political liability.”
The resistance comes from middle- to low-income workers. They’re especially sensitive to changes in the cost and availability of energy for the simple reason that it affects so many aspects of their lives—from getting to work, especially for those who live in rural areas, to the price of most consumer goods. It’s clear that many ordinary people aren’t willing to pay higher costs just to fulfill the grand visions of central planners.