Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Where Are The Big Ideas?

Murray Dobbins writes that none of our political parties are adopting big ideas. It's not that they're not out there. He points to the Alternative Budget which the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives has released in response to Jim Flaherty's do nothing document:

The CCPA's alternative budget replaces most of the revenue lost through tax cuts by measures that are actually quite modest, including:
  • Reversing just half the recent corporate tax cuts to raise $11.6 billion.
  • Setting a new high income tax bracket of 35 per cent for earnings over $250,000 in order to raise $2.5 billion (it was 80 per cent in the 1960s).
  • Closing tax loopholes and dozens of tax credits to raise $9.6 billion.
  • Creating a 1 per cent withholding tax on all assets held in tax havens to raise $2 billion (catching the tax dodgers could raise even more).
  • Establishing a 0.5 per cent financial transactions tax -- the so-called Robin Hood tax -- to raise $4 billion.
  • Placing an inheritance tax on estates over $5 million to raise $2 billion.
  • And finally, implementing a carbon tax of $30 a tonne to raise a net amount of $7.5 billion (after provision of a green tax refund).
That's about $40 billion in new -- or rather recovered -- revenue from modest tax increases that could be sold to Canadians if the NDP actually had faith in the intelligence of the people they hope will vote for them. 

All three parties -- most recently Justin Trudeau's party -- has committed to not raising taxes. But Dobbins points out that:

We live in a fabulously wealthy country -- twice as wealthy in real dollars per capita as we were when medicare was first introduced. Everything we dream of is possible. But it requires a political party with the courage to put forward Big Ideas.

Instead, the Conservatives offer lower cell phone rates and the NDP offers lower ATM rates. It used to fall to the NDP to offer big ideas -- which the other parties eventually adopted. But now:

Regrettably, Thomas Mulcair and the NDP have opted for small ideas. Canadians won't be fooled. A recent Ipsos Reid poll asked -- in addition to for whom people would vote -- who they thought would win the 2015 election. Forty-five per cent thought Trudeau's Liberals would win, 43 per cent believed the Conservatives would emerge victorious and just 13 per cent thought the NDP would win.

Tommy Douglas would be appalled.


Danneau said...

The problem lies in matching benefits with interests: all of the ideas presented in the CCPA Alternative Budget are, no surprise, progressive. Canada has been run by a succession of regressive governments serving the interests of industry and the wealthy minority, people who thrive on regression in the tax régime and austerity in the spending process, simply because they don't need government services: they can pay up front. The current progressive opposition, the NDP, is no longer progressive, if we are to judge them by their support for energy projects and trade agreements. They are likely to fade to a rump, while the two regressive parties in the House slug it out to see which faction can better fill the coffers of its friends. Strange that the CCCP makes so much sense, so often, so calmly, and even gets press, I suspect because the press knows that anything they say will be laughed off by the vast majority, else they'd never see the least en-dash in a paper or single frame on television. Our collective intelligence isn't worth much.

Owen Gray said...

Our collective intelligence has atrophied, Danneau. We used to be able to identify hucksters pretty easily.

Now we mistakenly think they're heroes.

Anonymous said...

Owen...may I suggest we excercise our collective intelligence? Benevolent wisdom trumps partisan and self-interested hackery...every time.

Owen Gray said...

I, indeed, hope that we do, Loving It. Our problem is that, too often, we choose willful ignorance over collective intelligence.

Lorne said...

It seems to me, Owen, that part of the problem is that we have accepted, with very little critical thinking, the false premise constantly propagated by the neoconservatives, that we are heavily overtaxed. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, as a tiny bit of historical and contemporary research would prove. And sadly, as you point out here, there is no other party with the integrity to point out that inconvenient truth.

Owen Gray said...

The idea -- which Harper has voiced -- that there is no such thing as a good tax has become chapter and verse, Lorne.

And all party leaders are afraid to argue with the conventional wisdom.

Steve said...

Not just Tommy what about Pierre. He was right on the NEP and why cant we still do that? He was right on High Speed Rail and thats still open. He was right on the Charter of rights and Freedoms, and we benifit from that daily, prime example the teksavy ruling.

Proportinal representation is the only way forward. The NDP cant be true to its roots because its afraid. Why then can Conservatives be proud as peakcocks?

Owen Gray said...

Anyone who is full of him or herself can be proud as a peacock, Steve. And the Conservatives are full of themselves.

Pierre was right about a lot of things. Knowing that the son of the man they thought they had sent to history's dustbin is now the leader of the Liberal Party is driving them crazy.