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July 29 1994 Halifax Herald

Governments' common bond: if it moves, tax it

We now hear the rumble of the federal Liberals talking about harmonizing the G.S.T. with the PST What happened to their pre-election promise to abolish the tax? I don't think itís a revelation for any citizen to find that the party's election promise died when they suddenly discovered the true extent of the country's financial woes.

Should the federal Liberals have been surprised when, after taking office, they "discovered" the depth of the country's financial ills? Heck, no! In my estimation, the only politicians who could be surprised by our financial mess are those who are fiscal illiterates or those spaced out in dreamland.

We all know the present financial state of affairs was a long time in the making, and Grits as well as Tories were its prime creators. Although some would argue the point, the debt probably began its ascent to its present heights with the accession to power of the John Diefenbaker government. Dief brought in new spending initiatives that were aped and expanded upon by succeeding governments headed by Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulrooney.

Consequently, the National Debt - piled up by the shenanigans of these politicians vying to outdo one another in spending non-existent public money, for the purpose of buying or keeping power -is horrendous in size, is a National Disgrace and is costing us a bundle. Its so big that 33 cents out of every dollar collected in taxes goes towards servicing it. As a result of this mismanagement of funds, billions of dollars, which could be spent on such worthwhile projects as environmental cleanups and better transportation, are being wasted in servicing the monster - and there is no end in sight.

Does a plan exist for the eventual retirement of the National Debt? Not to my knowledge. The Parties are too busy milking the situation for their future political advantage to be involved in something so mundane. Believe it or not, in the midst of the financial mess, some even talk of initiating new programs or enhancing the old.

Lets get serious. The size of the debt is causing us to lose our competitive edge. Excessive taxation is driving out investors and reducing our ability to gainfully employ our workforce. To regain our ability to build a future for our children, we desperately need to put our financial house in order and discard the archaic mentality that created our financial doldrums in the first place.

An initial step in this direction would be for all levels of government to ascertain what we can afford in services with a tax rate that does not exceed 40 percent of the buying power of each dollar earned by Canadians.

While devising a plan to achieve this goal, these governmental bodies should keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of Canadians are responsible people who don't need governments doing for them what they can do better for themselves. The mentality of past governments, which imposed the current level of state Big-Brotherism upon the people, has not proven to be conducive to realizing the true potential of our country. The excessive spending and red tape produced in the process is strangling us. Drastic changes in attitudes and a new outlook on taxation are needed. We don't need more new taxes or, expanded taxes or for that matter, more government. In the long term, what we need for a healthy economy is far less of both.

As we already have the despised G.S.T. in place, lets keep it for awhile and use it for something constructive - like paying off the National Debt. We could change its name and call it the "National Salvation Tax."

In the meantime, Finance Minister Paul Martin should cease and desist from making any obscene attempt to extend its tentacles to food and medicine. After all, there should be some things held sacred from the scourge of taxation. At the rate governments are trying to tax everything that exists or moves, it is entirely possible that, at a future date, they will try to devise a method to tax our sexual activities and bowel movements.

Daniel N. Paul

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