I was going to write a serious, thoughtful piece on the carbon price/emissions trading scheme details announced by (among others) Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday. It would have been a close examination of the exact price impact on your ‘average’ family earning $150,000 a year. I’d done the research, crunched the numbers, done some comparison shopping to determine just which expensive brand of toilet paper would need to be sacrificed in favour of something cheaper – nay, even ‘on special’. I even worked out how many energy-efficient light bulbs would need to be turned off for a couple of hours every day, so that these poor ‘forgotten families’ wouldn’t suffer the outrageous price slug of $9.73 per week.
Oh, it would have been a glorious piece of analysis. But then I heard this from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and my train of thought derailed entirely:
‘The carbon tax has become just another vehicle for redistributing wealth. It’s a form of Socialism masquerading as environmentalism.’
Wait … what??
So let me get this straight, Mr. Abbott. You’re saying that what’s really going on here is that the Labor government is planning to seize the means of production economy-wide, convert Australia from a capitalist ‘production-for-profit’ basis to a socialist ‘production-for-use’ basis, and run the country as a planned economy – all by taxing carbon-dioxide emissions on the biggest polluters, encouraging the development of renewable energy, and cushioning the impact on vulnerable sectors of society?
You’re saying that the government doesn’t really want to mitigate dangerous climate change – it just wants to effect a coup against the democratic process and install itself as our new Socialist overlords? That it went through all these months of research and planning, taking hits in the polls, undergoing nearly endless criticism, in order to lull us all into a false sense of security so that we won’t suspect until it’s too late? That a price on carbon dioxide emissions is, in fact, the ‘Red under the bed’?
Mr. Abbott, have you been listening to old speeches by Robert Menzies again?
But … what if he’s right?? Even now, there could be cells of committed Socialists arming themselves right next door. Come July 1, 2012, we might find ourselves at the mercy of … of … no, I can’t bring myself to say it. Who will save us? Who will institute our House un-Australian Activities Committee? It’s all too horrible.
It’s also utterly absurd. And there’s more than a whiff of desperation about it. I mean, really. Socialism-by-stealth?
Of course, this is no more or less than the sentiment that lies behind every conservative politician’s cry that taxing the wealthy more than the poor is somehow ‘unfair’. These wealthy people worked hard for their money, how dare the government take that away from them? Why, we should give them money, just to make sure that they can stay wealthy. Yes, let’s fund their private schools far above the money allocated to public schools. Let’s give them tax break after tax break. Oh, and let’s make sure we scream loudly about the destruction of Life As We Know It any time someone suggests that social equity is more important to a functioning, sustainable society than runaway profit and economic Darwinism.
It’s just that Abbott has come out from behind his rhetorical smokescreen this time. He isn’t bothering with weasel words or half-truths. And that may be his biggest mistake. Where people might listen to something that sounds plausible, resorting to ‘The Socialists are coming, hide the women and the silver!’ just sounds … well, it sound ridiculous. The Gillard government is about as far from Socialism as it’s possible to get and still remain vaguely progressive. It’s certainly a far cry from Ben Chifley’s enthusiastic embrace of planned economy principles.
But wouldn’t it be good if we could know for sure? If we could somehow travel forward in time to July next year and see what will happen?
* * * * *
July 2, 2012
Day 2 of our oppression under the Socialist Carbon Tax Overlords. Sky not fallen. No blood in the streets. Neighbours not digging underground bunker and loading in assault weapons and food. Politicians still waffling. Media still pontificating. Washing needs to go out on the line. Cat needs feeding. Lights still on.
Huh. Looks a lot like Day 1.