Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mike Fancie offers this year's definitive response to the the misguided concept of "tax freedom":
The Fraser Institute’s math on income and taxation has been roundly criticized, including by a former Assistant Chief Statistician and by our Andrew Jackson for skewing numbers to make a point. But while we take issue with the Fraser Institute’s numbers, and setting aside the bias inherent in their tax calculator’s $150,000 income ceiling, the more important discussion lies in appreciating why we pay taxes in the first place. Our tax dollars, far from disappearing into a black hole, are the reason that our roads are paved, our public schools are exceptional, our tap water is clean, and that our public health care continues to keep Americans jealous of their Northern neighbours.

A recent BBC article on the free maternity packages Finnish new mothers receive from the government was picked up by the Globe & Mail, who raved that Finland’s “every child matters -- every family matters” philosophy contributes to their children being among the world’s healthiest. And it turns out the tax dollars Finns pay to provide programs like this, much like Quebec’s $7-a-day childcare program, end up more than paying for themselves.

All this is to say that all but the most affluent of us get much more from our tax dollars than what we pay into the system. Taxes, in the words of a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, are the price we pay for a civilized society.
- But we're far from having a fair tax system precisely because so many wealthy individuals are evading their social responsibilities. Even as the CBC reports on a few more of the Canadian names on the ICIJ's list of tax evaders, it also notes that the Cons are pointing to cases that have nothing to do with offshoring as evidence of a crackdown.

- Meanwhile, it's for the best that the Cons have at least stopped obstructing international action to improve transparency in resource industries. But the fact that they're once again allowing extractors to write their own rules leaves little reason for optimism about Canada's own policy.

- And Chris Cobb reports on the Cons' choice to privatize and commercialize Canada's national historical record.

- Finally, Frances Russell wonders whether the Cons' sense of entitlement to power is causing them to neglect a crumbling foundation.

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