space_raptor wrote:Well, pickup trucks aren't being taxed by the Canadian government, probably for those reasons.
Personally, I'm not sure I like the whole idea of the government taxing something to actively discourage people from buying it. I like the idea of a tax credit for hybrids and the like. I don't like punishing people for making a choice, because there are many factors to consider. What if I make lots of long trips, and I want 4 wheel drive for the highway, but I don't need a truck bed? What if I like to go camping?
The problem is before, you wheren't paying the right price for the good.
The side effects (CO^2 pollution and other pollutions) that your SUV generates to a dispurportinate amount where not factored into the price
Let's try a thought experiemnt.
There is a pile of rocks. These rocks are communal property. They hold up a retaining wall that hold back a river.
Every rock removed has a 0.01% chance of causing flooding next year, with an estimated total cost of flooding in the area of of 500,000$.
Bob sells carved rocks. He carves the rocks into tools. It takes Bob 10 minutes to carve a rock, and 10 extra minutes to find a rock that isn't part of the retaining wall.
Alice wants to buy a tool.
Bob, noticing that he can double his productivity by taking retaining rocks, uses them. He sells them for 20$ each. He also sells retaining-wall-free rocks for 40$ each (same hourly salary).
Now along comes Eve, the mayor. She says "Hey, you are taking retaining rocks! That causes flooding." Instead of simply banning the taking of these rocks, Eve works out that each rock causes an average
of 50$ in harm. So Eve charges 50$ per rock taken.
Now, Bob's retaining rocks cost him 10 minutes plus 50$, while the non-retaining rocks cost 20 minutes plus 0$. If he just passes on costs, retaining rock tools cost 70$ while non-retaining rock tools cost 40$.
As it happens, the retaining rocks are a pretty blue colour, while the non-retaining rocks are an ugly grey. So some people still buy the retaining rock tools, because they like the extra features.
In the next town over, the situation is simlar except the expected fooding damage is only 50,000$ per flood. This means that they only charge 5$ per retaining rock taken.
Here, charlie sells the retaining rock tools for 25$, and the non-retaining rock tools for 40$. They have other differences, so sometimes people pick the more expensive one over the cheap one.
And that is what charging people extra for an SUV is about. Before hand, you where harming everyone
by emitting extra CO^2, but you where not paying for it. Now, you must pay the cost of your extra emissions.
If you think that extra cost is worth the extra features, then you are at least properly compensating others for the harm you are doing. If you don't think the extra cost is worth the extra features, then you are no longer freeloading by harming other people.
There can be questions about the charge being accurate or not (it might be too high or too low), but the basic idea is really sound.