Kill The Meme

Overhearing a conversation beside me… well alright, eavesdropping on a conversation beside me between a couple guys I didn’t know, one who represents some sort of Blah Blah Taxation Coalition, translation: a group who hates paying taxes… follow me here on a semi-related tangent and one more ellipitical deficiency… I want to start a group, a coalition called something like The We’re Faring Pretty Well Taxpayers Coalition and we’d advocate not necessarily for increased taxes but we’d also not summarily dismiss them as nothing less than the work of the devil himself. The WFPWTC (note: need zazzier acronym) would put out press releases and do the media circuit, arguing that for the amount of money we hand over to our governments, we get a fair bit back in return. We’d point out the many jurisdictions with much higher rates of taxation, like say, Scandinavia, that consistently best us in standard of living indices. We’d hire darling Margaret Watson of the Canadian Pensioners’ Concern who’ll say things like, We can’t get what we won’t pay for and sometimes we are our brother’s keeper with that slight Scottish burr of hers. Don’t old people say the darndest things?

Back in the real world where it’s perfectly unnatural not to loathe taxes with a passion, the guy from Grrr! I Hate Taxation Coalition states matter-of-factly and as if it’s as plain on the nose on his face and not in the least bit simple-minded, that governments just have to operate like a household. You don’t spend more than you earn, do you? Well, leaving aside the notion that if you own a house and carry a mortgage, you probably very well do spend more than you earn. It’s all about manageable debt, and we can have that conversation whether this city’s carrying a manageable debt load.

But can we cease and desist with this empty talking point about governments being just like households or businesses? It’s tired. It’s old. The first time I remember hearing it is back in the early-90s from a cheque book waving Preston Manning and his nascent Reform Party. It’s brain-dead sloganeering that leads to destructive policies brought in under the banner of Common Sense.

Governments are not just like households.

Unless of course your household spends, oh I dunno, a third or so of its annual operating budget (your household does have an official annual operating budget, yes?) on emergency services. While it’s true, I do hand over an inordinate amount of money to my wireless, internet and cable provider, a quick tally of the bills reveals it to be nowhere near a third of the household budget on such must needs. How about feeding, sheltering and basically caring for the less fortunate? Your household spend 20% of its budget on that? Jesus Christ demanded a whole lot more from us to help out the poor. I’m not even a believer and I’m a bit ashamed of not meeting his target. Transportation costs? You spend another 20% of your budget moving family, friends, neighbours and complete strangers back and forth around town?

You see what I’m getting at here? Governments are nothing like households; nor should they be expected to run like for-profit businesses either. That’s just a cheap, lazy concept. A useful canard tossed around by those who hate government in general and taxes specifically. Disagreeable sociopaths if I don’t care about being diplomatic. It’s too weak to carry even a long conversation. Yet somehow we’ve allowed an entire ideology to be propped up onto it to the detriment of many and benefit for the precious few.

So let’s just stop catering to such barren rhetoric and start having a rational discussion on the kind of society we want to live in.

annoyedly submitted by Cityslikr