Friday, June 20, 2014

Clearing Out The Rot

A number of shibboleths fell with the election of Kathleen Wynne. The most insidious of them was the notion that  the words "tax" and "theft" are synonyms. Linda McQuaig writes:

The centerpiece of this ideological orthodoxy has been an almost phobic attitude towards taxes. The vilification of taxes has profoundly changed our society in recent decades, dramatically limiting our ability to act collectively to achieve common goals that improve our lives, confining us instead to isolated lives as private consumers.

Under Stephen Harper, Ottawa today collects about $30 billion less in revenue than it did a decade ago — $43 billion if corporate taxes are included. That’s $43 billion less each year to put toward public programs like health care, education, child care and pensions — programs that Canadians demonstrably want.

The corporate elite will continue to cry fowl. But the evidence is clear. It is they who benefit from the vilification of taxes:

Of course, this won’t stop the corporate elite from demanding an anti-tax agenda — something from which it has benefited enormously. A study released last week showed that Canada’s rich are much richer than we think; the average income in the top 0.1 per cent is actually a stunning $2.1 million, not the mere $1.3 million previously reported.

Wynne proved that, if the wealthy won't vote to increase their taxes, the general population will -- because society, as a whole, benefits:

Far from being the tax-phobic, one-dimensional characters described in economics textbooks — Canadians are capable of seeing that it’s more cost-effective and inclusive to pay publicly for important services like the provincial pension plan Wynne proposed.

Canadians not only like public programs, they consider them central to what they admire about Canada. A public poll released last week by the Harper government — part of the run-up to Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday — showed that Canadians regard medicare as the accomplishment that makes them “proudest to be a Canadian.”

This echoes results from 2004, when more than 1.2 million Canadians voting in a six-week CBC TV poll ultimately chose Tommy Douglas, the former Saskatchewan premier who first introduced medicare almost 70 years ago, as the “greatest Canadian.”

All of which does not bode well for Stephen Harper and his claim that "there is no such thing as a good tax." The shibboleths are falling. Canadians are beginning to clear out the rot.


The Mound of Sound said...

Governance by technocrats is inherently transactional. A transactional public is a nation of taxpayers, not citizens. They are a diminished people.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, Mound, that people like Rob Ford and Tony Clement have ceased to refer to Canadians as "citizens."

They are just "taxpayers." They are merely levers to be pushed and pulled.