‘You toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it’ 

Editor, The News:

Re: ‘Families win with HST cut’ (The News, May 27).

As someone who spent the majority of his working life defending the rights of working men and women, it is hard to be dispassionate about such a controversial subject as the HST.

The more onerous the tax burden on the average working citizen becomes, the more protective my attitude towards working people who are simply trying to survive and feed themselves and their families.

When does taxation get to the point where the working poor have little recourse but to go without the necessities of life?

I think we have now reached that point.  I believe that governments have taken the position described so eloquently by Abraham Lincoln in his House Divided speech.  Lincoln described the eternal struggle between two sides. On the one side, the “divine right of kings.”  On the other, the “common right of humanity.”

I postulate that governments, both provincial and federal, have subscribed to the former, to wit, “you toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.”

Governments have taken the attitude that the taxpayer is a cash cow to be milked when necessary. It is my position that the ordinary taxpayer can no longer bear the burden with which they are faced. Rather than getting their own house in order, governments choose to keep taking money from the taxpayer to compensate for their own inadequacies.

Governments, in general, have become inefficient. Our provincial government is no exception.  An excess of deputy ministers cum political hacks earning obscene salaries is but one glaring example of money that is wasted.  Since when should  subordinates to ministers earn more than the minister themselves?

The health authorities are another example of a colossal waste of taxpayer money.  How many CEOs, CFOs and other well-paid bureaucrats do we need to run the hospitals of this province? Certainly not more than a fraction of those we now have.

We, the voters, have allowed this situation to continue to exist.   We also tend towards complacency when presented with multi-million dollar campaigns aimed at telling us how good our province is, or how good the HST will be for businesses in the province of B.C.  These campaigns would not have been possible without our money to fund them.

Does the provincial government honestly expect us to believe that businesses will flee the province if the HST is voted down? Their statements in that regard reek of disingenuousness.

Will the gas companies leave the vast gas and oil reserves in this province untouched if the HST disappears? Will the mining companies shut down their lucrative operations? Will the forest companies cease cutting trees?  I think not.

It is almost as if the provincial government looks upon the working people of this province as ignorant, unthinking drones, completely incapable of rendering informed decisions on any topic, especially those in which the government has a personal stake.

In an ideal democracy, power should emanate from the bottom, from the so-called ordinary British Columbians. I believe, however, that we are moving perilously close to a plutocracy, where the minority with wealth and power determine the destiny of the majority.

Some may say that Canada and the U.S. have been so inclined for a century or more, what with the drug companies, oil and gas companies and other multinationals running rampant without government interference.

Governments of all types have become pits of patronage, where politicians act not in the best interests of their constituents, but in their own best interests, making contacts, currying favour with those people of power and influence, in order to secure their own futures.

As an average British Columbian, I must take issue with the way in which the revised HST proposal has been presented to the public. According to the Liberal government, the HST will be reduced by two per cent after the next provincial election. Will the Liberals also bring back the exemptions for certain goods and services that were extant when the PST/GST was in place? If not, the increased tax burden on the average working person of this province will continue to be much greater than was the case before the HST was introduced.  The minuscule HST rebates given to a minority of the population will do little to mitigate that situation.

Average taxpayers must be made to understand the significance of the tax shift that the introduction of the HST has engendered. Billions of dollars of taxation has been shifted virtually overnight from big business to ordinary working British Columbians.  It really doesn’t matter whether the corporations or, for that matter, smaller businesses get a hike of two per cent or 20 per cent in the amount of HST that they have to pay, since they get it all back anyway.

If people can realize these facts, then it will become abundantly clear to everyone that the HST is not only a bad tax, but an insidiously bad tax.

George Clarke

Maple Ridge