Weighed down by a $14-trillion debt, the United States is now facing the prospect of economic collapse.
And yet none of its leaders has the courage to suggest even a modest tax increase to alleviate the situation. Instead they are playing politics and bickering over which services to cut and by how much. In the U.S.A. and Canada any politician who proposes a tax increase is committing political suicide.
It is unfortunate that we are not debating the relative merits of increased taxes and reduced services. A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has concluded that those with an income under $100,000 actually lose money when their taxes are reduced. Any immediate gain from tax cuts is offset by a plethora of incremental increases in the cost of services.
When the BC Liberals first came to power they immediately reduced our taxes. We were all delighted.
But how many of us related the tax cuts to an increase in our MSP premiums and the loss of coverage for eye examinations and physiotherapy?
The conclusions of the CCPA study on taxation are controversial and arguable, and it is regrettable that there is no public debate on the subject.
So it is discouraging to find in the letters and political cartoons in the Record, that debate over the HST referendum has been reduced to an argument over which option will cost us less in taxes.
Those who support lower taxes should also be prepared to say which public services they would like to see reduced or removed and which services they would be willing to pay for out their pockets with their tax savings.
When politicians promote an economic policy they are fond of saying, “We have no choice.” This is simply untrue!
Unless we take an ideological position, we always have choices. We can have an effective public education system, reduce hospital waiting lists, and improve our postal, transportation and police services if we so choose.
But if we opt for these public services, we have to be willing to pay taxes to support them.
Perhaps it would be more convenient and cost efficient if some services were provided privately. But then we must be prepared to pay for them.
In any case, we can’t make these decisions without effective public debate.