Tuesday, February 9, 2010

John Gunter -- Back to 1776

John Gunter, a columnist for the National Post and former editor of the now defunct rag known as the Alberta Report, recently gave insight into what the Canadian Taxpayer crowd harken back to. In a column for the National Post (the home for many refugees from failed right wing rags) he evoked the happy taxtation levels of the Americans in 1776 as measure of what we should view as outrageous. He made this observation in commenting on how we have too much government:

The American colonists, by comparison, felt they were groaning under a crippling tax burden. Many of their staples, they felt, were onerously taxed while they received little from England in return and had no say in how large the levies against them would be.

My point was: Quebec, a net beneficiary of Confederation, was chomping at the bit to break up Canada, while, compared to the 13 colonies, they had little to complain about.

So out of curiosity, I asked the historian what the level of taxation was in 1776 that caused the U.S. to declare its independence.

I will always recall his answer: "the equivalent today of about 5% to 7% of their income."

Let's see Lorne, what would you like to give up and go back to from that time?

Let's get rid of a few things that your pals on the right really like, say like, a standing army and regular police forces. Surely we can just stay home, unengaged in international affairs and let the gangs police themselves rather than spend all those lovely tax dollars on such wasteful things. I guess you would be happy to dismantle the prison system by bringing back hangings for trivial offences.

How about we get rid of a few of those other post-Revolutionary frills that we have picked-up, like sewer systems, water treatment facilities and public landfills -- we could save a bundle on muncipal services if we ditched those. Public highways as well -- if anyone really wants pavement they can pay for it themselves. Public education -- surely every child's parents can pay for a proper education and if they can't, well the child didn't deserve or need to be educated anyway. Railways and airports -- pshaw -- it is madness that so many public supports were given to building that all that infrastructue. Things would be so much better if the Crown just waited for the highest bidder to step-up and buy public lands at fair market value and deal with providing such things themselves. We also would not have to pay for all that nasty airport security then -- we could just have differential airfares for people who wanted to fly on airlines that screened for highjackers and those that did not (perhaps we could also offer people in tall buildings a chance to pay a special charge to divert highjacked planes to buildings who were unwilling to pay).

I have no doubt that the real programs Mr. Gunter would like to cut are those that he sees as only helping the undeserving -- you know, the unemployed and those who cannot pay for their own doctors. Let's get rid of all those expensive public hospitals and if rural areas end up with no doctors -- well, you can always pick where you live. Heck, for that matter, since we have gotten rid of public education, public hospitals and public sewers, we might as get rid of all those public health offices too and stop forcing vaccinations on families. Sure we will lose herd immunity pretty quickly but the diseases that should be going around after our first round of cuts finish people off pretty quickly anyway so they will not have that much of a chance to spread to the upper classes, right?

We won't have to worry about retirement costs since we should be able to get life expectancy down to well below 65 on this scheme and there will be few people who will ever become eligible for retirement and pensions in any event. Without public education (think of all those savings in teachers' salaries) we will see a marked drop-off in university attendance and we will be able to scale back public expenditures on professors, students and research within a few years. If all goes according to plan we should be able to cut out public subsidies for universities in about twenty years.

Muddy, smelly, dirty, disease ridden and ignorant -- the wonderful world of John Gunter and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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David P. Janes said...

To summarize, I think: some guy says what we'd consider to be outrageously low tax rates today today were revolutionary before, therefore he hates modern society & its various accouterments, therefore the workers must seize the tools of production and Adam Giambrone must be provided one (1) comely lass pure and true yearly? I think I slipped on some straw in there reconstructing that argument...

Anne said...

Right on Robert. Tax whiners turn my stomach.