I've had it with politicians whining and moaning about deficits and government debt.
I've had it with their manipulation and propaganda.
This has been going on for decades, across all parties, federally and provincially, with perpetual cutbacks, layoffs and threats, but never a real solution offered.
If cutbacks and layoffs were the answer, deficits would have been slain a generation ago. Think back to the Clyde Wells/Jean Chrétien era. Did layoffs and cutbacks eliminate the deficit? No. Will Dwight Ball and Cathy Bennett kill the deficit with cutbacks and layoffs? No.
What the whining politicians refuse to admit is that deficits and debt are less a problem of spending and more a problem of revenue.
I'm not talking about oil. The problematic plunge in the price of petroleum can't take the full blame for the province's monumental money mess. Even when crude goes back up to the $70-per-barrel range, as recent reports predict, the good people of Newfoundland will still be burdened with a public debt of about a dozen billion.
By then, according to recent opinion polls, the whining, moaning, manipulation and propaganda will probably be coming from Premier Steve Kent and Finance Minister Paul Davis, but let's leave that nightmare for another day.
This week in New York, a group of one per centers sent a public letter to the state governor asking that their taxes be raised.
Eighty rich people declared that, as rich people, they could afford to pay more and should pay more toward public necessities such as schools, roads, bridges, water systems, etc.
Presumably, the rich people don't mind – although they didn't specify – helping to pay the salaries of teachers and public-sector workers who are essential to schools, roads, bridges, etc.
The signers of the New York letter are probably an extreme minority of their cohort – the .1 per centers, if you will. Rich people generally don't admit to being able to pay more taxes, let alone express a desire to.
The .1 per centers have the right idea. They, at least, are far closer to providing a solution to ongoing deficits and rising debt than any politician outside of an NDP caucus.
Ah, the socialists. Make the rich pay, and so on. It sounds less and less naïve, doesn't it, the more we hear about the widening wealth gap, CEOs walking away with $6-million severance packages and billionaires avoiding taxes via offshore accounts.
But making the rich pay misses a far more important point. Milking the rich like a stubborn, unwilling cow is only half of it.
The real, long-term solution is to implement a fair income tax system.
Strangely enough, few politicians ever talk about this. It is far easier and more politically expedient to blame public-sector unions or the public's unrealistic demands for a school or hospital on every street corner.
Equally strangely, millions of Canadians live with the delusion that the country, and provinces, have a graduated income tax system, and ergo, it is already fair.
The federal income tax system has only five brackets. Someone earning $50,000 pays the same tax percentage as someone earning $90,000, almost twice as much. Someone making $95,000 pays the same tax percentage as someone making $140,00.
At the higher end, someone who makes $205,000 pays the same tax percentage as someone who makes $505,000.
This is neither graduated nor fair. Tax percentage increments for each $5,000 or $10,000 of salary would create a fair tax system, would not burden anyone and would enable governments to gradually pay down public debt.
I'm guessing Bennett won't mention any of this in her upcoming budget speech.
Brian Jones is an editor and columnist at The Telegram in St. John¹s,
Newfoundland. He is not affiliated with Canadians for Tax Fairness. This
column is reproduced with permission, and was printed in The Telegram on
March 24, 2017. It can be found on The Telegram¹s website
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.