Thursday, September 29, 2011
If the Tax Man Cometh, Please Light the Lamp
Gerretson happens to be my MPP in Kingston, though his "wired" gathering was not for a Kingston audience, but was province wide. He was acting in his capacity as a senior provincial Liberal.
I had anticipated that the questions would relate to the economy, or healthcare, and of course the dreaded HST. In fact one caller spoke of the HST on Hydro bills, prompting Gerretson to point out that the HST was a federal tax and that rebates compensated most Ontarians for any extra tax burden.
However, many of the questions were about the state of our society. One woman was concerned with the plight of the homeless. She was obviously not homeless herself. There were questions about what could be done about the increase in the use of food banks. About unemployment that was hurting families and why so many seniors were forced to live in poverty.
What was wrong with these people?
Why weren't they whining about high taxes, the debt or the deficit? Aren't they supposed to be our top priorities?
I generally tune out politicians, though I'm sure Gerretson's answers were just what the callers wanted to hear.
But I learned something about the Canadian people. We still care about the disadvantaged in our society, and more importantly, expect our government to do something for them.
And I learned that maybe we are smart enough to realize that if we lower taxes .... again .... our government would not have the means required to do what we expect them to do.
And maybe we now also realize that "lower taxes" is New Right speak for lowering the taxes on the wealthy, while offsetting them with reductions in services for everyone else.
The tired logic of lowering taxes, creating jobs, has been debunked.
I watch Bill Maher religiously, craving for a Canadian program promoting progressive ideas, and this week as a guest he had the lead singer from a group called Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello.
I have to admit that I'd never heard of them, but I gathered that they may be a bit radical. However, Mr. Morello was intelligent and articulate, and absolutely captivating.
A champion of social causes, he told the story of a group of workers, who made guitars for companies like Gibson and Fender. The work had been outsourced to Seoul, Korea, where working conditions and wages were so deplorable, they would have been shut down in the U.S.
So the workers tried to unionize, and instead of hearing them out, the American based industry simply moved the factory to China, leaving many families destitute.
So they pooled their resources, sending three delegates, the 6,000 miles to the United States, hoping someone would take up their cause. As a result, Morello's group offered to perform a benefit concert, with all proceeds going to the struggling Korean workers.
However, the day before the concert was to take place, the earthquake hit Haiti. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle.
All of the affected Korean workers asked Morello to instead give the proceeds to the Haitian Disaster Relief Fund.
If people with nothing can be so generous, what is wrong with us? Why has lowering our taxes taken precedence over doing what is right?
The "Tax Man" theme is played out across the United States, mostly by Republicans against their Democrat opponents. It's getting old.
Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendall Holmes, once said that "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society".
What is a civilized society worth to you?
Are we being impoverished by taxes, or is cutting taxes impoverishing our society?
I find that those who scream the loudest about taxes, are also those who scream the loudest about potholes, or rant, "where are the police when we need them?", or complain about standing in line at government service offices.
How do you think those things are paid for?
So if the "Tax Man" cometh, I'm lighting the lamp and putting on a pot of coffee. We need to talk. I don't want him to lower my taxes, only to make better use of them.
And if that makes me a "leftie, tree-hugging liberal", I'll wear the title with pride.