In a recent interview with the Globe and Mail, Stephen Harper, who is apparently the best Canadians can come up with for a national leader, said the following – and I swear I am not making this up: ” First of all, I believe cutting all taxes is good policy, OK? I… I’m of the school that… 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.”
According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, this same Stephen Harper drew an aggregate salary of $301,600 last year. He lives rent-free in 24 Sussex Drive, an Ottawa mansion scheduled for a $9.7-million reno job. He and his family spend their free time at Harrington Lake, the prime-ministerial summer mansion. By May 2008, according to the Toronto Star, his personal staff had racked up $514,000 in “meals and taxis and a few flights”, though they almost always travel in the PM’s private airbus – for which no clear expense figures are readily available.
It will surely come as no surprise that the above expenses are all covered by the Canadian taxpayer. But suppose Harper decided to put his money where his mouth is. He might choose to sleep on a ventilator shaft and beg for crusts, to forgo his unusually large cadre of advisers, and hitchhike around the country rather than put us all to the expense of supporting his lavish style. Or, more probably, he might find political supporters among the ultra-rich to pony up the cash. Then, freed from the taint of hypocrisy, he could fire the public service, shut down Parliament, and abolish taxes once and for all.
Imagine a world without taxes. How sweet it would be: every paycheque a full pay, every penny you earn yours and yours alone. You`d be laughing all the way to the bank. Well, maybe not all the way. You might grimace a bit at the tollbooth on the privately built road. But that’s peanuts compared to what you’ll save in taxes. Once you cash that cheque it’s all yours, and none of it is grabbed by a greedy government.
Oops! Just as you’re leaving the bank a greedy bandit comes up and demands the whole works. Too bad there’s no police anymore, better hire a private security guard to escort you home next time. That’s got to be cheaper than having Ottawa gouge 20 or 30 per cent of your pay every week to pay for cops and schools and welfare and hospitals and all that rubbish.
Oh, got kids? I guess there’ll be some cost to sending them to school. Good thing you saved so much on your taxes. And bear in mind, without taxes there’ll be no truant officer, so as a parent you’ll have complete freedom of choice about your child’s education.
If you should happen to get sick, you’re going to be very, very glad you voted Conservative, because you’re going to need every penny of that tax savings to cover hospital costs. And should you lose your job, you’re really going to be happy about all the money you socked away every week instead of wasting it on taxes.
When the utopia of the untaxed becomes reality, imagine how good you will feel, getting home with all that extra money. Think of the little luxuries you’ll suddenly be able to afford, like sewer, water, power, garbage pickup, postal services, sidewalk maintenance, streetlights, libraries – and with a tax-free system, the choices are all yours. If you prefer to shiver in the dark, throw your trash on the sidewalk, and crap on the streets like a dog, it’s up to you. No taxes means no bureaucrats and no cops, so no regulations!
Since there will be no regulations, everything will be cheaper. Spared the expense of meeting safety standards and filling out all those annoying forms, companies will be able to reduce the cost of everything from food and water to cars and houses, so you the consumer will save even more. That’s money in your pocket, and no one can make you spend it unless you choose.
If you get E. coli from deregulated food, if your kid chokes on a deregulated toy, or your car’s deregulated brakes fail and land you in an accident, you and you alone get to decide whether to spend your hard-earned cash on doctors’ bills.
As a Canadian taxpayer, I must confess to a slight trepidation about Harper’s policy on taxes. Who, for instance, will maintain the bridge I sleep under? But all things considered, I’m ready for him to take that first simple step toward a taxless, government-free, deregulated Canada, and just quit his job.
For my money, the sooner the better.
Al Pope won the 2002 Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in BC/Yukon. His novel, Bad Latitudes, is available in bookstores.