The Right seems to have this weird notion that if you don’t spend money on something the cost just disappears. In fact, it’s just borne elsewhere.
ACC is the obvious example. National has cut compensation for sexual abuse victims and others. Does this make the costs they face disappear? No. Instead, the cost is borne privately, rather than collectively – if the victim can afford the treatment they need, otherwise they are just left to suffer.
The Emissions Trading Scheme is another example. We hear a lot about how the ETS is increasing power and fuel prices. Yup, it’s true, it’s putting a price on emitting gases that are causing climate change. By paying to reduce emissions now we should reduce the costs of emissions later.
But the fact is that carbon polluters will not be paying the whole price of their emissions. National’s gutted ETS means that polluters only pay half the cost. Does that make the rest of the cost disappear? No, of course not. We, the taxpayers, pick up the rest of the tab.
Over the next five years the government has made provision to give away $3.176 billion worth of carbon credits to carbon polluters.
We pay for the need to reduce greenhouse emissions one way or the other. Either the polluters pay or the taxpayers pay. So, there’s no point complaining about the cost of the ETS on power and fuel. What we should be more pissed off about is that we are being expected to bear half the cost as taxpayers.
We have to pay, the question is whether we put the cost on pollution to discourage pollution or we just lump it on taxpayers.