Tax is not a dirty word
TheStar.com – news/insight
Published On Fri Apr 15 2011. By Heather Mallick Star Columnist
Class, quiet please. Our word for today is “taxes.”
It is not a dirty word, it is a good clean honest noun for a healthy civic function in the body politic. Thanks to the current demonizing of taxes, three levels of Canadian government — municipal, provincial and federal — fight not to be openly saddled with levying the things, which is why we now pay “user fees” for fat black garbage bins that brood over our streets, and Toronto is now being run on what appears to be the proceeds of a giant bake sale.
Must it be so? Do we realize what a great deal we’re losing as we parrot the American Tea Party and demand lower taxes and the same level of services? Peace, order and good government doesn’t come cheap.
The hard-right would have us believe you can just stop paying taxes, just as you can quit drinking coffee and have better sleeps and a more restful life.
But you can stop paying taxes about as easily as you can stop going to the bathroom, the consequences being just as dire and not willingly imagined.
“Great god, this is an awful place,” Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic expedition wrote on the day he arrived in polar hell, and that’s where Canada would be without corporate and personal taxes. In fact, just about every mess we’re in is because we don’t pay enough of them.
Taxes pay for good things that we don’t think about until they vanish. Traffic lights, military graveyards, restaurant kitchen inspection, best-before dates on cheese, transport-truck safety, passports, immunization, filtration standards for urban cremation chimneys, crosswalk-painting, drainage, bank deposit insurance, child-support enforcement, prison guards, chiropractor regulation, bridges, tunnels, flag design, auditors-general, airwaves usage, census-taking, postal codes, organ donation, courts, clean water, weather history, alcoholism treatment, classrooms, assisted reproduction, at-risk species registration, forest-insect slaughter, fish conservation, Olympic training, vehicle registration, name change, international child abduction search and rescue.
Take a deep breath, class.
Building codes, nature trails, mental health treatment, Ontario cemetery finding, Toronto bike lockers, maps, vehicle sensors, P.A.T.H., apartment standards, First Nations statistics, land claims, bankruptcy, Polar Continental Shelf tracking, veterans, fence disputes, fraud and waste hotline, leaf pickup, snow removal, urban forestry, Hydro, pesticide regulation, Great Lakes pilotage, litter collection, committees of adjustment, army and navy, autism assessment, behavioural therapy, border guards, serial-killer tracking, copyright, Supreme Court appointments, governors-general, access to information, adoption records, critical infrastructure protection.
And another breath.
Air-bag safety, student loans, agricultural income stabilization, immigration, embassies and consulates, parole, postage stamps, streamlined customs clearance, the national do-not-call list, forest-fire mapping, petroleum and natural gas lands administration, canola dealer licensing, hunting and snaring licences, fisheries, elections, pensions, money-minting, aviation museums, polar ice-watching, police college, social assistance, unemployment insurance.
And that was just a taste, a smattering, of what Canadians do and have done for them, the stuff that makes you want to kiss the sweet Pearson tarmac when you get home from the bloody dust of Afghanistan and never leave this good-natured civilized paved place until whatever-awaits-us extends its bony hand and says “Follow me.”
Government is a restaurant and the menu is long. Side dishes include autopsies, notary publics, ferries and bingo permits, more stuff that Canadians take for granted while going along with the sneering of Mayor Rob Ford, that Tim (or is it Tom?) Hudak person and our frigid fury of a prime minister.
In 1997, Stephen Harper gave a speech to the Council for National Policy, a right-wing U.S. think tank, summing us up as “a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term and very proud of it.” He said of the unemployed, “Don’t feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don’t feel bad about it themselves, as long as they’re receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.”
If you have even the slightest fear you’ll ever be out of work, remember that bit.
Overall, the text was a big vomit over land-o’-taxes Canada and its hateful voting blocs, no surprise there.
But the essence of it was a failure to understand the magnificent enterprise of Canadian functionality, the genius of our occupying a huge rich landscape and running it with courtesy, compassion and smarts. For a man whose very hair is screaming to escape from its tyrannical overseer, he sure doesn’t understand what the northern nations do with their money and why they gleam internationally.
We pay our taxes and in return, they oil the gears of daily life. When a professed tax-hater wants his baby’s birth registered, he calls out to his taxes. Hey you! Print it! File it! And they do.
I love Canada. It is a taxed, well-organized love.
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