The State, Citizens and Taxes
For more than two decades, the neoconservative thought that has swept North America has succeeded in imposing its dogma of continually lowering taxes as the only acceptable financial truth. Elaborated by neoconservative economists and applied in the United States by Republican presidents, this policy has been followed in Canada by not only the federal government but also by provincial governments. The debate, when there is a debate, only dwells on the percentages of the reduction or the increase and never on the substance of the question.
The government is neither rich nor poor. It has the money that it obtains from the pockets of its citizens through taxation. The money is used to provide all citizens, including the poor and marginalized, a series of services requested by the population or whose usefulness stems from a societal consensus. In this way, the citizens of Canada have given themselves services for which the State is the purveyor, notably in health, education and social services. It is essential to highlight that the delivery of these services by the State does not have as an objective making a profit and that these services are offered at cost.
The Conservative government pretends to lower taxes for the good of the citizens and it uses the classic formula “You will have more money in your pocket.” In reality, by reducing the sources of the State’s revenue, it hopes to attain its real ideological objective which is the reduction of the State, and as a consequence, a reduction of the services offered to the population. Each lowering of taxes sooner or later leads to a reduction of services to the citizens. The services cut are provided by private companies whose objective is to make a profit for their shareholders. We go thus from services that are paid for and used collectively to services paid for and used individually. Many of our citizens will not be able to pay for these services. There will be a deep social division which will have as a long-term result a general social destabilisation and the emergence of a period of social confrontation.
Each time that the question of taxes is under discussion, we should collectively answer the following question, “What is the level of services that we want for us and our children?” A second question should also preoccupy us, “Am I able, with the little bit of money that will result from the lowering of taxes, pay for the same level of services as what we pay for collectively?” Think of health, education, social services and the environment.
In several countries in which the standard of living is among the highest in the world (Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden) taxes are higher than in Canada. In spite of that, the citizens are content and that for the simple reason that they receive quality services corresponding to their needs. It is in these countries that the people are the happiest and the degree of governmental transparency is the highest.
A good government should promise its citizens that it will listen to it and its needs, be transparent as to expenditures and keep taxes at the level of the services requested by the population.The fact that we are currently close to exiting from an important economic and financial crisis does not make it easy for the next government. The Conservative government leaves a heritage of immense deficit and it is not fair to leave this deficit as a legacy to our children. The next government should do everything possible to eliminate this deficit. This should be done in consultation with the population and in a transparent way. Thus, citizens themselves will decide if it is necessary to lower or raise the taxes. Democracy in Canada will thus be improved and the parties will find it impossible to be demagogic about taxes.
Corneliu Kirjan – Cornwall Ontario
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of the Cornwall Free News, their staff, or sponsors.)
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