Eliminating the HST would be ‘stupid’

The elimination of the HST mostly because we did not like how Premier Gordon Campbell virtually lied to us in the election of 2009 by not saying he planned to bring it, would be stupid.

The elimination of the HST mostly because we did not like how Premier Gordon Campbell virtually lied to us in the election of 2009 by not saying he planned to bring it, would be stupid.

We did not stop the GST when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney brought it after no warning during an election. We got used to it.

Dropping the GST rate has made Stephen Harper beloved of tax-hating government-distrusting conservatives everywhere. It has hurt federal revenues badly; we pay for it in lost services. Premier Christy Clark learned from Harper.

Not one person of the absurd mixed stew of anti-HST allies — NDP, big unions, the Zalm, old SoCreds, reactionaries — agrees on what tax will replace the lost revenue. There will be a tax. If you doubt it, you are truly foolish.

The anti-HST crowd is not in power, yet is irresponsibly pretending that an end to HST can be accomplished with no consequence. That is simply low, ignorant politics. Death and taxes are unavoidable, remember?

If you believe that the taxes will be shifted to the wealthy in an equitable manner, you’ve been ignoring the last 30 years of history. The reaction against graduated tax rates toward flatter rates began in 1980. The evidence is overwhelming: the rich got richer in that time.

To be clear, I loathe the present popular consciousness of the electorate that is afraid of business and the captains of industry. Since the 1960s the pro-corporate mind has rolled our post-World War II consensus backward. Once we expected business to pay a share of taxes commensurate with profit rates. Now we will not tax their capital at rates we did back when corporations carried a heavy load for government revenue needs. We are on our knees before them, afraid they will take their capital abroad.

Look at the poor debt-burdened Irish and Greeks. They believed that lowering their corporate tax rates to lowest levels, while trying to put a floor under the poor with government-funded programs, was sustainable. I’m not impressed with BC Liberals’ revenue-spending priorities. But without tax revenue, they will do more harm to us. More of the programs and services we depend on will be cut.

The capitalists surely laughed as they watched the debts of small nations balloon, leading up to 2008. When the bubbles burst, just in time to put the whole financial crisis on the back of the “socialist” president Obama, banks fell like dominoes.

And who got the trillions that put the system back on its legs? The people at the bottom who had lost jobs, houses and pensions and savings? No. Governments saved the system by pouring staggering sums of borrowed money into the socio-economic pyramid — at the top, into the hands of the banks and corporations, not into the hands of the millions of “little people” whose consumer spending would have righted the system as effectively. And the Dow rose…

The pendulum is against us, swinging to an extreme where private capital has its day of lording it over us, the public sector shrivels, and organized labour retreats.

When it begins to swing back, then we’ll force disgorgement of the wealth of the so-called geniuses of the market. Until then, the present voter consciousness is not prepared to challenge the idea that we can’t tax profits at rates we did 50 years ago.

Consumption taxes, flat taxes, user fees, and ever-fewer income tax brackets will be the norm until we revolt against the disappearance of government from our lives.

We’ll learn the hard way that government is the only collective institution we have that can address the inequities that are absolutely normal to our “free” market system, where individual egos and capital struggle, each for the good of the self and mindlessly unconcerned with the common good.

End the HST? For sure. And tax profits big-time. And start the Rev. And save Earth. We’re all agreed.

Charles Jeanes, Nelson

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