Had an interesting idea on my walk home last night inspired by someone asking how to solve business tax issues and debt. My economically educated friends are welcome to tear this apart but I still find the concept interesting if not viable. I call it Environmental taxation.
What if instead of taxing finished goods, we tax the hell out of raw material?
Tax lumber for every tree cut down by ring? Clear cutting is no longer viable. You would have to chose your lumber and carefully plan your extraction to limit unnecessary tree falls. Clean water entering a manufacturing plant taxed, while clean water leaving the plant qualifies for rebate. Cleaning water would actually become a tax write off industry. Charge tax based on raw tonnage of ore extracted rather then the mineral. Of course carbon tax would be a part of this to facilitate the taxation of air pollution. But lessened by the inclusion of all raw material in the tax base.
Hold items at unfinished levels to a lower tax such as raw lumber, bitumen, uranium, metal.
Finished product such as chairs, tables, gas, cars would be tax free. Thus increasing the demand for industry within the borders before shipping finished goods overseas.
I’d like to see the taxation increase at least to the point that environmentally harmful harvesting is no longer economically viable and responsible methods required. Import tax could be reinstated (regardless of free trade) based on similar factors used in their creation. This is a Canadian solution as we are a resource rich nation and send a lot of raw and unfinished goods overseas only to buy it back as finished product. Often manufactured by underpaid labour in ecologically disastrous conditions. Ie: china.
Free trade can have a huge negative effect on populations. Trade is a nonviolent means of encouraging foreign nations to adapt new methods. If you sign agreements allowing nations to sue you for not buying their goods regardless of manufacturing methods you lose a powerful tool for change. Favored trading partners based on economic and environmental considerations forces nations to improve standards to be able to sell goods, instead we often turn a blind eye to how something is manufactured for pennies on the dollar as long as we can buy it cheaply while wondering why our manufacturing can’t compete.