Saturday, August 10, 2013

On efficiencies

Nick Falvo offers one response to Tom Mulcair's latest comments on taxes. And I certainly won't argue with the position that it's utterly bizarre to see the leader of a progressive party declare that he's perfectly happy with the restrictive revenue streams (and associated lack of social programs) set up by an anti-tax zealot

But I'll point out that even if Mulcair himself doesn't share the view that there's reason to look for more revenue than the federal government currently takes in, he should still revisit the "never" language he's using at the moment. And I'll turn to no less an authority than...Tom Mulcair, from the same interview, discussing public administration and the delivery of programs:
He said the NDP would spend money on different things, and the NDP would make cuts, but they would be better cuts.

“Yes, you can order your priorities differently...” he said. “This is the type of thing that has to be done with a scalpel. They’re hacking away with a rusty machete. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lousy managers, and the NDP will provide really competent public administration.”
That take is generally consistent with what we've heard from Mulcair on public administration all along: that his primary interest is in making sure public services are delivered efficiently and effectively, and that he'd want to ensure that public money is both invested where needed, and cut where it can be.

Or in other words, that there's a need to consistently review government operations for efficiencies (without attaching the Cons' expectation that those efficiencies will be turned into cuts or diverted to ad spending).

Which is all well and good. But it also raises a rather obvious question: why wouldn't the same principle apply to our revenue system? Why shouldn't we consider whether new tax structures might better fit the model of both raising revenue and being publicly acceptable, rather than assuming that what we have now is carved in stone?

If it's possible to raise more revenue equally efficiently in a way which involves some increase in personal taxes, then surely the same principle has to apply: the public interest should come first. And likewise, if it's possible to raise roughly the same revenue more efficiently, surely it's worth looking at how to do that rather than adhering to the type of dogma that even Republicans are starting to abandon.

And the issue goes beyond the consistency of Mulcair's own message. It seems fairly clear now that the NDP's contrast against the Libs for 2015 will include a heavy dose of rightful concern over Justin Trudeau's policy depth (or lack thereof). But the more Mulcair himself relies on sweeping oversimplifications which don't stand up to scrutiny, the harder he'll make it to criticize Trudeau for doing the same.

In sum, Tom Mulcair is smarter than he's apparently willing to sound when it comes to tax policy. And the more he pretends otherwise, the more he'll contribute to irresponsible government - no matter who's Prime Minister after the 2015 election.

1 comment:

  1. This is the kind of thing that lost us the BC election. It's bad public policy, and it's also bad electioneering--it is designed to make the NDP look not-scary but in doing so it gives nobody any reason to vote NDP.