Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 25: For my New Brunswick readers.

Today's New Brunswick newspapers, like several editions of them recently, has been in a frenzy over the recent and rapid rise in property taxes.  And Brian Murphy has a commentary on property and income taxes. Alas, as always his column managages to offend no-one by saying nothing.
Now, Liberal premier Gallant is in trouble for the sense of discontent that is running through the province - as was the Conservative premier before him - as was the Liberal premier before him.
Wake up, New Brunswick.
Of course you have to increase property taxes -and other taxes, too. For a start, large tracts of industrial land pay very low taxes so the rich people who own them will like us. Use a little bit of common sense. If you let big business off with low property taxes, somebody has to pay the difference. And the only somebody available is you.
Just made up your income tax report? Pleased to have found a couple of  loopholes for tax deductions? Dream on. The most generous tax laws, by far, are those that benefit the rich. There are, for example, deductions for employee stock  options. Those cost us $760 million a year. And every cent goes to the richest 1%. Somebody has to pay to make up for that. Guess who?
Many countries, including Canada, thoughfully provide tax havens so muli-milionaires and billionaires won't have to pay any tax at all. That costs us billions of dollars that have to be made up by people like you. It can't all come from us, of course, because we don't have that money. So it has to come from places that don't matter - education, for example, health, food for the poor.  
An interesting magazine called Monitor   (January/February 2017 issue) has some interesting items on all this. Tax loopholes cost our federal government over one hundred BILLION dollars a year. And almost all of that lost tax money stays in the pockets of the richest one percent.
That loss of tax revenue helps to explain why child poverty has risen in the last decade.  Child poverty, always high in New Brunswick, has risen to over 21%. And poverty is a childhood scar that lasts forever for most children. They are likely to feel worthlessnes. They are very likely to do poorly in school - despite intellitence, because they have a low opinion of themselves, and they probably remain poor.
Think how much nicer it must be if Daddy is rich, rich, rich, can send you to a private school. can raise you in a setting that gives you confidence, and maybe even hand you your first job as CEO of one of his companies. Yes.
Of course, it would cost money accomplish that when mummy and daddy earn less in a year than the big boss does in this first hour or of work. And mummy and daddy, unlike the big boss, have to pay taxes.
The magazine has an article on that called investment needed now to end child poverty. Of course, to achieve that, the rich would have to pay their share of taxes.
The same magazine points out that the richest 20% of all families take home half of all income for the whole country.
New Brunswick has to raise taxes, and to raise them mostly from the bottom 70% or so of the population. That's because so many of the wealthy pay no taxes at all. That's why we have provincial deficits. That's why we can't afford free university education. Tiny Cuba can. But big, rich, Canada can't. That's why we have to raise charities to feed the hungry. (And don't kid yourself that a charity meal is just as healthy a a regular one.).
The reality is that our whole tax system is a scam which  takes money from the poor to give it to the rich. (Tell me all those heart-warming stories about the philanthropy of the rich.)
New Brunswickers have tolerated this abuse for all 150 years of confederation.
We have to pay high taxes - because the rich don't. And sometimes, we cannot get what we need to live decently because the tax money we need to do it just isn't there.
And New Brunswickers accept this treatment for election after election. We're getting mad at the Liberals? Okay. We'll show them. We'll vote for the Conservatives (the ones we voted out to vote in the Conservatives. Democracy in New Brunswick is just a great shell game made possible by a passive people.
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Like moss on a wall, New Brunswickers just hang on limply. They are, in my experience, frightened of having an opinion. They're even frightened of hearing one from someone else. They are frightened of being thought different from other New Brunswickers. That's why a newspaper chain that has no news and no opinons worth reading can dominate the province.And, oh, they pay one hell of price for their fear.
Above them hover the vultures who feed on them. But they're too scared even to look up or to admit they are there.
That's the price of intellectual and social cowardice.
Oh, this attititude carries through to New Brunswick churches.  In a world in which churches stand by while millions die to satisfy the pure greed of the very, very wealthy, I note that the Faith Page routinely produces the wimpiest sermonettes I have ever seen.
Christianity, like most religions, requires courage. But New Brunswickers practice faith in the same way they practice politics.

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