Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"I don't believe any taxes are good taxes"

Adam Radwinski picks up on the money quote from The Globe & Mail's interview with Stephen Harper today:

"You know, there's two schools in economics on this, one is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I'm in the latter category. I don't believe any taxes are good taxes."

My first reaction to this was to suggest immediately blanketing the airwaves with Liberal ads using this quote to prove to people, finally, that the man running our government doesn't believe in government!

Then I came to my senses and realized that most people would probably like the idea of never paying taxes again. Because while individual humans can be pretty smart, people as a group have a history of being incredibly stupid.

Personally, I've never had any problem with paying taxes. Of course, I've never made so much money that my income taxes were anything worth complaining about. My husband got hit a bit worse back when he was doing IT consulting - and trust me, income tax hurts way worse when you have to pay it yourself all at once instead of having it deducted. But when balanced against, say, not having to worry about medical bills when our son was born or when my kidneys stopped working and I was hospitalized for a week, or knowing that we won't have to sell our house and live in a box to send our son to University, or even receiving basic services like a public school system or police protection or having our street plowed... yeah, coughing up a few hundred or even a few thousand a year doesn't seem so bad.

I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir here (except you, Raph), but the point the Libertarians and others who continually ask "Why the hell should I pay for that?" always seem to miss is that providing such services communally instead of purchasing them individually is, among other things, CHEAPER.

It cheaper when it's something everybody needs (like plowed roads) because it's more efficient to have one guy plow 50 streets than 50 guys to each plow one street.

It's cheaper than paying a private company to do the same thing (like health insurance) because private companies take as big a cut as they can for profit while governments do not. Just ask the Americans.

It's cheaper even for things that only a small percentage of people might need (like welfare, or cultural grants, or new hockey rinks) because one of the people who needs such things might be your brother or your daughter or your grandma - and if your taxes help pay for it then they won't be hitting you up for cash all the time.

Sensible people understand all this intuitively. Even the ones who gripe about government spending and plead for "smaller government" understand that there are just some things that government should be doing. Things that cost money. Things that somebody, somehow, has to pay for. But apparently Stephen Harper would rather have us all live in Happy Tax-Free Fantasy Land and pretend that all these services we take for granted will just magically be provided thanks to his supernatural economist powers.

After all, by the time we come to our senses he'll be long gone.


  1. My inlaws, the Danes, have polled as the most content citizens in the world. They accept paying 50% of their income in taxes because their democracy works well for all citizens in all needs. I loved visiting Denmark where I saw taxes successfully at work in seniors residences, hospitals, universities, etc.I found young adults worldly but not driven materialists.

  2. Isn't that what they are doing in the House, most of the time? Arguing about taxpayers money. The budget.
    My conclusion about government is: people vote in people to decide how to spend the family (nations, or provinces, or local) BUDGET.