Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply

Carbon Tax Relief or Autonomy?

This refers to a study by the Microeconomic Studies Division of the Congressional Budget Office, about how the government might help low income people, like me, if a carbon tax is instituted. Well, as you read on you will see it’s not exactly about people like me.

 Carbon Tax and the Status Quo

It is ironic that the government, whose policies consistently perpetuate the fossil fuel way of life, may charge everyone a tax to mitigate the results. But the real culprits are the average mainstream sheeple who insist on being entitled to the fossil fuel lifestyle, even to the point of sacrificing their children in the fire of foreign wars.

The OMB analysis assumes that the poor have no choice but to perpetuate this sick state of affairs by consuming at customary levels. They will therefore need special help from the government to pay their portion of the carbon tax. This government assistance, if fully offset, would cost upward of 27 percent of the tax collected. That doesn’t include administrative costs of redistributing the wealth from the middle class fossil fuel users to the poor ones.  As the OMB points out, “An important consideration in using revenues to provide assistance to households is the amount of new administrative or compliance costs.”

I would like to note how touching it is that somebody associated with the government is acknowledging the lowest of the low income people, and how we might be negatively affected by a government policy. We are disproportionately inconvenienced by all policies, but nobody usually notices.

I was amused to learn about the very existence of the federal Microeconomic Studies Division, since I live in the very throes of “micro-economy” day-by-day, by choice, mind you. I am now curious about what else these folks are up to. What is the agenda behind the commissioning of such reports?

As nice as it is to be acknowledged, it is alternately a bit insulting to be studied by one of the entitled people (i.e. anybody who does not live and breathe the microeconomic dynamics of the lower income “quintile,” as they call it). I smell paternalism because I don’t see where any low quintile people were actually consulted here, which isn’t surprising because the assumption is that there is something mentally wrong with us.

Intentional Simplicity is the Obvious Quality of Life Solution

But, for the sake of discussion, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume for a moment, that somebody truly cares about how this carbon tax offset might impact quality of life in general, especially for low quintile folks. In that case, they should seriously consider the option of encouraging radical voluntary simplicity as a solution. This option improves the environment, empowers the poor, and preserves liberty all in one fell swoop.

One reason the poor seem committed to perpetuating their miserable state of affairs is that they are generally not aware that lifestyle alternatives promoted by the radical simplicity movement can dramatically improve quality of life. Nobody has ever discussed this with them or encouraged them. The emphasis is always on mainstreaming.  Cultural creatives with alternative wisdom are constantly belittled and suppressed by the Powers that Be.

The OMB report completely skirts the issue that the fastest way to solve both environmental and economic problems is to re-ignite and preserve the liberty to experiment and improve ways of living simply and naturally on earth. Ways that are accessible to any income quintile.

 The Carbon Tax and the Poor

The approach of promoting a fossil fuel culture, then charging a carbon tax and mitigating the economic trickle down with government welfare programs is counter-productive. Under a carbon tax scenario, producers would pay the government for using fossil fuels to provide goods. The producers would then recoup their costs, which would result in either higher prices, lower wages, or lower stock dividends.

The study says low-income households would be disproportionately affected by a carbon tax because they spend a larger portion of their incomes on necessities, which in our culture, are dependent on fossil fuels. They also spend a higher ratio of income on gas and electricity than do more affluent households. So, the humane thing to do is for the government to step in and help, by redistributing some of the money collected via the carbon tax.

Instead of promoting true solutions, this OMB report grapples with questions of how welfare payments that offset a carbon tax would affect peoples’ consumption practices, willingness to find work, and eventually invest — in what mutual funds?

Redistributing Carbon Wealth

People who already receive government assistance in the form of Social Security, SSI, or Supplemental Nutrition Action Payments — aka food stamps — would see an automatic increase, since those are tied to the consumer price index. This basically looks like a big money redistribution scheme that compares two options. One would benefit households in all income brackets. The other focuses on the low quintiles.

Possibilities in Option One include reducing income taxes or providing rebates on income or payroll taxes across the board. The government might also increase incentives for energy-saving investments.

The second option focuses on redirecting carbon tax money to the poor through a higher Earned Income Tax Credit, provide a cash payment to people on food stamps, or increase payments to households getting help through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

 What About the Laissez Faire Option?

I am not very interested in any of these government programs. My greatest desire is for government to get out of the way so I can live. All things considered, the government should adopt a laissez faire option for people like me, who are interested in simply surviving and thriving on earth in a sustainable and respectful manner to the best of our abilities.

My goal is not to consume at customary levels, but to do just the opposite: to thrive with as little gas and electricity and consumer goods as possible. The government, if it is truly concerned about people in the lower economic strata, should back off and let us figure out how to accomplish that goal in peace. It is both possible and honorable.

Freedom Steps to Intentional Living

Here are some things that need to happen:

  • Planning and zoning commissions in low density areas need to back off so the low quintile folks have opportunity to freely build dwellings and intentional communities where use of resources and energy are minimized.
  • Regulations that prohibit people from living where they work and working where they live need to be banned.
  • Health Departments need to leave householders alone when it comes to humanure and gray water systems, as long as best practices are followed.
  • People need to be free to grow agricultural products of all kinds and sell or barter them without government intrusion.
  • The right to earn a livelihood without the government taxing it as “income” needs to be respected.

Oh my gosh. That sounds a lot like freedom! How many of you free Americans can handle it?

Occupy Autonomy

Efforts to create healthy autonomous small-scale living systems need to be off limits to government interference and intrusion. If we can justify nationally orchestrated murder to preserve access to the fossil fuel lifestyle in the name of freedom, we the people can demand the liberty to simply survive on US soil. Anything less is unreasonable compromise.

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