Liberal’s Version of the Future–Impractical, Expensive, Theoretically Sound

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    Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.

     Wherein we see that this is the liberal notion of planning. This is what happens when governments try to solve imaginary problems. Costs will skyrocket, controls will proliferate and disaster will ensue, the liberal trifecta. If this were satire it would be hilarious, but the joke’s on the taxpayer because these people are serious. The costs for electricity in this province are among the highest in the world and yet they want to use it for heating.

Kevin Libin
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan
A leaked cabinet document, reportedly signed-off on by Premier Kathleen Wynne, lists a jaw-dropping 80 or so policies

To get an idea of what Ontario could look like a couple of decades out under Liberal energy minister Glen Murray’s “climate action plan” — which was revealed in detail in Monday’s Globe and Mail — who better to rely on than the man himself, Glen Murray?

Back in 2008, when he chaired the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, Murray — along with his acting CEO, Alex Wood, now executive director of the Ontario Climate Change Directorate — offered up a plan that looked remarkably similar to the new Liberal cabinet document. In fairness, the NRTEE document hardly offered the perniciously micro-managed prescriptions for people and businesses that Murray has graduated to now. And this new plan, billed by the Liberals as a “once-in-a-lifetime transformation” for Ontario’s economy, may also prove the end of Ontario’s lifetime of economic progress. In an era where assisted dying is the big thing with Liberals, this could be the first case where it’s tried on a province.

The leaked cabinet document, reportedly signed-off on by Premier Kathleen Wynne, lists a jaw-dropping 80 or so policies including: The eventual ban on heating new homes and buildings with natural gas, with only electric or geothermal being legal; $4 billion to be doled out by a “green bank,” funded by carbon taxes, to subsidize retrofits of buildings to get them off natural gas; the requirement that homes undergo an “energy-efficiency audit” before they can be sold; and a stack of rules, regulations and handouts to get an electric car into every two-car household within eight years, including rebates, free electric charging, and plug-in stations at every liquor store. Naturally, there will be billions more in traditional government-spending programs on public transit, bike paths, upgrades for schools and hospitals, and “research” funds and centres of climate excellence, not to mention new ethanol fuel standards that will gratify the Liberals’ top corporate donors in the biofuel lobby.

    Ontario Liberals drafting policies in ‘back rooms,’ opposition says over reported $7 billion climate plan

What hasn’t changed, evidently, is Murray’s confidence that a vast centrally planned government program is capable of re-engineering an entire economy through a combination of painful taxes, bans, and endless subsidies. That particular perspective no doubt fed into the Harper Conservatives’ 2013 decision to pull NRTEE’s funding. But at least its work, under Murray, was more honest than the Ontario Liberals will likely ever be about the enormous economic costs accompanying such schemes.

In assessing “investment changes in key economic sectors” resulting from carbon pricing, the roundtable bluntly projected that spending in the mineral and freight transport sector would virtually dry up due to “reduced output” (refining, too, although that’s meant as a feature, not a bug). Investment would also shrink in those “value-added” industries that provincial governments love — from cars and paper mills, to chemicals, metals, and building construction. Meanwhile, investment would come pouring instead into electricity and biofuels, largely because NRTEE estimated carbon taxes in the neighbourhood of $500 to $775 a tonne by 2026 — just a decade from now. That’s 15 to 25 times the highest carbon tax in Canada today.

As energy analyst Aldyen Donnelly points out, there are echoes of the decades-long Scandinavian climate experiments in Ontario’s effort to shift to geothermal power by banning natural gas (although Murray took issue Monday with calling it a ban, given that natural gas would still play some “role in the energy mix”). In Sweden and Norway, governments facing the prospect of shrivelling business investment ended up shifting the rising costs of their new, “green” electricity to consumers, who paid more, while businesses saw rates decrease to prevent relocations to less-expensive jurisdictions.

In Denmark, the government has mandated a shared “district heating” network since the 1980s, beginning with carbon taxes to incentivize choices, before it resorted to outright banning new furnaces and water heaters, and eventually forcing people to pay for a “mandatory connection” to the network. Danish ratepayers now pay five times as much in electrical taxes and levies than for their actual energy use. Meanwhile, reductions in the average Dane’s household carbon footprint over 20 years has been less than one-third. Ontario somehow thinks it will beat that, with 37 per cent reductions by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050 — despite having among Canada’s weakest geothermal energy resources.

    The ban on natural gas means Ontarians will either soon end up a lot colder or a lot poorer

That suggests that under the new climate action plan, most Ontario homeowners will be forced instead to rely on solar and wind electricity for home heating. Since Ontario ratepayers already pay the continent’s highest rates, thanks to the Liberals’ ideological obsession with green power, that can only mean they’ll soon end up a lot colder or a lot poorer. Union Gas estimates that heating by electricity instead of gas will inflate the average homeowner’s heating bill by about 600 per cent. As Donnelly also pointed out Monday, in European countries that have tried the kinds of economy-wide carbon-cutting schemes that Ontario aims to emulate, household debt as a percentage of income has exploded compared to elsewhere in the OECD. Denmark’s debt ratio is nearly twice as high for the average family as in Canada.

In a preamble to the leaked cabinet document, Wynne promises “a transformation that will forever change how we live, work, play and move.” Forever is an awfully eternal commitment for a single premier to lay claim to. Perhaps the Wynne government thinks it can pile on rigid bans and crushing carbon taxes on households and businesses both, and still somehow permanently keep people and investment in the province. Or maybe, the government has accepted that Ontario’s fate means sacrificing the latter. Statistics Canada’s Capital and Repair Expenditures Survey last week showed investment in manufacturing and finance in the province at half its pre-2008 recession levels. With On tario’s economic demise now “reasonably foreseeable,” the Wynne government may have come to terms with the inevitable, and is ready to embrace an extreme green plan to hasten its own economic suicide. If only there were a way it could be a bit less agonizing.   

<end>

    You want an example of government control, this is it. Frankenstein’s monster looks good by comparison. Socialism works except where it’s tried.


Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Power Teaching: How to Find Someone to Teach Your Child when the Education System has Failed.
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies

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