Here is a topic that many do not want to address but that society might and should consider; should a government, be it national, provincial or municipal, go against the collective “wisdom” and raise taxes? Yes, raise taxes. Raise our income tax rates, provincial, personal, corporate taxes, and our municipal school and land taxes. Why would any government raise taxes when we in the Kootenays have one of the lowest provincial personal tax rates, the second lowest provincial small business rate and, in Radium, the lowest municipal tax rate? Why raise taxes, you and I might ask? It will impact my own overspending! It will put me into the poor house!
The collective wisdom to date is that lowering taxes increases job growth and employment, but we still have about eight per cent unemployment and close to 20 plus per cent in the under 25-year-old category. We had these rates 20 and 30 years ago.
“Let’s lower taxes again,” is the collective wisdom and we still get the same result, eight per cent and 25 per cent unemployment. When our tax base was so much higher, guess what we had for unemployment — seven per cent and 15 per cent unemployment. So now our collective governments, at all levels, have accepted the concept of lowering taxes and we will get more companies and hence more employment and hence more tax revenues. Ooops. This does not seem to be happening does it. And this is documented through Stats Canada data.
One of the unintended consequences of lowering taxes close to zero, for all intents and purposes, is that the three levels of government don’t have the monies to supply the services that we expect in life and are clamouring for — schools, paved roads, welfare, housing, medical, sidewalks and, and… Oh yes, we can obtain all of those through greater efficiencies in process, or through borrowing to the nostrils and fobbing the cost onto our kids and grandkids. Those are the three alternatives governments have to deliver services; raise taxes, borrow to the nose, or reduce taxes or, horrors, raise taxes.
To date, we have had a low, very low, taxation base and reduced services and rising and falling unemployment. Yes, we all recognize there are economic and world factors involved in the daily or weekly ups and downs of our lives. But how long is this current paradigm going to continue of low taxes and low service levels? It’s like Dilbert in the cartoons checking each photocopy to make sure each copy says the same thing. Hoping against hope that the next copy will give a different result, to paraphrase, and we continue with our paradigm that low taxes will increase this and that function of society. Doing the same thing time after time and hoping for a different result is called what?
So if this low taxation paradigm does not work, why not raise taxes? A simple question for you and I the tax payers. I, for one, do not want to saddle my kids and grandkids with another withering debt load to pay for our current needs and desires. The previous NDP government did that and put the province of B.C. into the poor house. I for one do not want to continue in the current underemployed or partially unemployed state that happens here and so often in the Kootenays and in B.C. and in Canada.
If we want the toys, if we want the services, if we want the employment, and our municipal and provincial and national coffers are sucking air, let we as society pay the piper today through greater taxation at all levels. Let us change the paradigm. We have to take responsibility for our own desires to have these services. In other words, we have to pay now, for what we receive now. Ahh, but the current collective wisdom says we have to lower taxes to get employment and jobs and attract business and residents. Does Mr. Dilbert come to mind again, per chance?
Maybe we have to change the paradigm and pay now for services now and take on our own costs rather than fobbing those costs off to others, that which is our immediate benefit. We might pay the piper now through increased taxation and employment will follow as will services and less government debt. Stats Canada has shown that history for Canada and B.C.
Should we raise taxes across the board against the collective Wisdom? Food for thought for the folks of B.C. and Canada and, most importantly, the Kootenays, both east and west.
David R Pacey
Radium Hot Springs