I was recently mailed a “Pre-election Opinion Survey” by the B.C. New Democratic Party.
They wanted to know if I am in agreement with NDP positions on such things as reduced medical premiums, improved social housing, more stringent environmental regulations and more funding for health care and education.
All of these are high-cost items, which could not be implemented without substantial tax increases. And yet nowhere in the survey does the word “tax” appear. Does the NDP not have a policy on taxation?
In recent decades neo-conservatives have been very successful in convincing the general public that taxes are inherently evil. Many politicians call for tax reductions but these days a candidate who calls for a tax increase would seem to be treading on thin ice.
In the United States, some public schools operate on a shoestring or are even closed when school tax bills are voted down. They would rather pay exorbitant rates to insurance companies and private hospitals than have a publicly funded health care system.
They don’t have tax added on at the gas pump, but toll-roads abound and public transit suffers. Some states have eliminated taxes entirely and offer virtually no services.
Taxes are a bargain for most of us. Health care, education and many services can be offered more effectively and inexpensively through public funding. There are even studies that purport to show that those in the low and middle income brackets actually lose money when their taxes are cut.
We should be judging the performance of our political representatives not by how high, but how well managed our taxes are. There is always the potential of corruption and waste in government, so there will always be a need for a strong, independent auditor general’s department.
I am generally sympathetic with most NDP policies, but have always wished that they had the courage to publicly promote the benefits of taxation.
So I was pleased to hear on the news today that Adrian Dix has announced at a meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade that he plans to increase business taxes if elected.
Hopefully, he will go on to raise the issue of a fair increase in general income tax to provide adequate funding for our health care and education and other valued public services.
Should they remain silent on this issue, the BC NDP will appear to be tacitly agreeing with the neo-conservatives and allowing them to continue framing a negative attitude towards taxation.