Anti-Tax Is Anti-Citizen

January 14, 2011

Since government, or social organization, is among the wants of man, as truly as food or clothing, we must recognize it in the science of political economy, and provide for it. Government implies functionaries and expenditures. How shall these be maintained? Evidently by the contributions of all, for all are interested in its existence. It may, therefore, rightfully claim a share of all that labor and capital have created.

— “The Science Of Wealth” (1866), by Amasa Walker

When Mayor Rob Ford succeeded in having the Vehicle Registration Tax repealed last month, he crowed, “It’s a great day for the taxpayers of Toronto. We just put $64-million back in their pockets. They can do what they want. They can go out and spend it, create jobs and stimulate the economy or they can save it.”

I don’t know if the mayor really believes all that neoconservative nonsense about tax cuts stimulating the economy and, in turn, increasing government revenues. There’s no reason why he wouldn’t since it’s an empty trope that’s been all the rage for the past 30 years or so despite having little real world evidence to back it up. And I also wonder if the mayor understands that even if tax cuts were shown to increase government revenue, municipal governments in this province would not see their coffers filled much as the kind of tax revenues they have access to aren’t the sales or consumption taxes that, theoretically, increase in a stimulated economy. It’s a subtle distinction Mayor Ford hasn’t shown much of a propensity in understanding.

In cutting the VRT, city council has essentially amputated one of the hard earned revenue tools it was granted through the City of Toronto Act. As it will if the mayor eventually carries through on his pledge to do away with the land transfer tax. His proposal to freeze property taxes on this year’s budget (which is actually a cut – see Spacing’s Dylan Reid explain in his post) slices mightily into the city’s biggest generator of revenue.

Despite what politicos on the right and their media promoters insist on telling us, taxation is not a dirty word. It’s what buys us civilization and all that. Striking the right balance on which taxes to implement and at what levels in order to not stifle healthy economic growth is the key to successful governance. Any idiot can simply appeal to our basest instincts of greed and self-interest in a call for slashing taxes. It’s proven to be a winning strategy for decades now.

The loss of the VRT revenue and the mayor’s proposed property tax freeze will cost the city in excess of $100 million. How will that money be offset? Service cuts that Mayor Ford guaranteed on the campaign trail wouldn’t happen and some $23 million in user fee increases. What’s that about Torontonians tired of being nickel-and-dimed to death? His Respect For Taxpayers seems to be very, very selective.

Anti-tax politicians are never looking out for ‘the little guy’ despite their claims to the contrary. The last thing they want to do is to give a voice to the voiceless. Their primary intent, first and foremost, is to diminish the power of government to properly look after all of its citizens regardless of where they are on the economic spectrum. If they can get in a little reverse Robin Hood wealth redistribution while they’re at it, so much the better. Anti-tax politicians are not grassroots heroes.

They are abrogators of responsibility. They don’t govern. They vandalize and plunder. They never leave anything better than they found it. They only make things worse. And time and time again, we have to chase them from office and start to clean everything up.

You’d think we’dve learned all that by now.

get it through our thick skullsly submitted by Cityslikr