January 4, 2002 Halifax Herald

The ungodly price of utopia

ON DEC. 11, 2001, a Canadian Press news item entitled "Terror war, economy derail Liberals' promises," published in this newspaper, provided some eye-popping info.

It detailed the income and expenses of the federal government, highlighting once again this shocking fact: A huge hunk of our federal taxes run down the pithole of servicing the national debt. The staggering annual sum of $42.1 billion, to be exact.

To put it into more understandable terms, it's enough to cover the budgets of the four Atlantic provinces combined.

In total, Canadians pay $82.3 billion in federal income tax each year. If you were to calculate only the funds needed from it to service the national debt, it means that more than 50 per cent of every federal tax dollar you pay goes to the bankers.

Then chuck into the mess the megabucks needed to service provincial and municipal debts. If you were to add them all together across Canada, it would very likely come close to $300 billion annually. It all boils down to the greatest waste of tax resources that one could ever contemplate.

Factually, what we've acquired from governmental financial irresponsibility (that got us to where such a large portion of our tax dollar goes toward financing the opulent lifestyles of the very wealthy) is essentially nothing that we couldn't have got by being financially responsible.

Unless, of course, you deduce that seeing some retiring executives walking away with retirement packages in the neighbourhood of $21 million as something truly positive and worthy.

This is what I believe we actually got. We have a situation where the very poor are taxed beyond conscience to maintain a great deal of socialist programs that only benefit the middle class and over.

To be fair to these people, it must be mentioned that most of them probably didn't want these programs, either.

We have provincial and national infrastructure that we cannot afford to maintain. A military that has been so reduced in size that it amounts to little more than a police force, and is so badly equipped that it has even had to stoop to borrowing equipment from the armies of other countries to keep running. A health care system that's becoming less and less responsive. The list is almost endless.

The root cause of the before-mentioned financial recklessness was that all levels of governments were mindlessly trying to establish a social utopia.

When the state decided to intervene in the lives of Canadians to the point where personal responsibility became secondary to the powers of the state, the writing was on the wall.

The societal problem it has caused probably was no better expressed than when a Canadian gave this idiotic explanation for the fact that more than 57 per cent of Americans volunteer for charitable work while only 37 per cent of Canadians do: "The Americans have to do it. In Canada, we don't have to donate because the government does it for us."

It may come as news to people such as these, but for governments to do it, the poor pay an ungodly price.

Even municipalities such as HRM are getting in on the act of robbing them in order to maintain the pretense of painlessly servicing the more affluent.

Instead of the above-board method of increasing property taxes to keep pace with rising expenses, it keeps increasing the toll for the fund to clean up the harbour and then using much of it to balance the books - more than $100 million so far.

I keep hoping that one day, politicians will wake up and appreciate the unfairness of this country's method of taxation and abolish taxes that cruelly milk the poor.

Income, property and user pay taxes are the only fair method of taxation. Therefore, when it comes to meeting rising expenses, these should be the only ones on the table to increase.

If this is unpalatable to politicians, then they have another alternative: Cut back harshly on socialist programs that aren't essential, or abolish them altogether.

And, most important, get permanently out of the business of using blanket paternalism. Let those who are able do it themselves.

I'll close with this request for those with incomes of more than $30,000 a year who bemoan their financial situation.

This year, when calculating your income tax, keep in mind that poverty-stricken individuals with incomes of less than $9,000 are paying, what to them is megabucks, also.

Daniel N. Paul


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