The opposition NDP in British Columbia has been making a concerted effort, joined now by former premier Bill Vander Zalm, to organize British Columbians against the coming Harmonized Sales Tax. Vander Zalm is trying to get enough signatures to require the Liberal government to hold a referendum on the tax.
Am putting this out there because I just don't get why certain progressives are against the HST.
Or maybe I do.
Here's a series of tweets I posted a few minutes ago:
Re BC-HST, 1) ppl will ALWAYS protest a new/chg'd tax 2) NDP = big gov, more services/progs, more taxes 2 pay 4 same 3) HST gd 4 very poor
4) w/ rebate, HST gd for lowest 2 economic classes. Only 'bad' for incomes above mid-range & only if u BUY STUFF.
5) HST - like PST/GST - is a consumption tax. IMO, that's better than inc. taxes. W/ cons. tax, u get more stuff, u pay more tax.
So, Y is NDP against this tax, if not due 2 opportunism, to take advantage of knee-jerk reaction against all tax?
If you've trouble reading Twitter-ese, the long version goes like this:
As night follows day, people will always protest the introduction of a new tax. It doesn't matter that the proposed tax is meant to cover the costs of providing new or enhanced services x, y and z. People just hate taxes, period.
The NDP supports the provision of public services by government; not, or much less so, by business. It supports tighter and more regulation, a flatter incline among classes, and so on. The party therefore supports bigger government, and less business or corporate influence, control and interference in public affairs. (So far, so good; am pretty much in agreement with this.)
For government to provide more or enhanced public services, it must raise revenue. That means raising taxes - or fees, which amounts to the same thing.
The proposed HST comes with a rebate for the lowest two economic classes. The poorest in the province will get the most.
I, for one, am really looking forward to my quarterly rebates. Am already better off thanks to the carbon tax, which the NDP also protested in its failed 'Axe the Tax' campaign.
The NDP is purportedly the champion of the underdog, the homeless, and the desperately poor.
I don't consider middle-income earners and the wealthy to be underdogs. Yet they are the only ones who ultimately may pay more under the HST. It all depends on HOW MUCH STUFF THEY BUY.
The HST, like the PST and GST, is a consumption tax. So is the BC carbon tax. The more you buy, the more you pay in tax.
Well, boo hoo!
Unlike income taxes - which I prefer to see axed - consumption taxes are useful sticks to curb people's behaviour. That's the fundamental principle behind a carbon tax, which most industry leaders support.
It's no accident that the majority of politicians don't support a carbon tax ... publicly, that is. They haven't the courage. Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion was one of those rare exceptions. Too bad the party elite lacked the spine to support him.
Anyway, given the foregoing arguments regarding the HST, it begs the question why the NDP is so against it. Unless that party's protestations have nothing to do with the tax at all and everything to do with political opportunism.
[cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]
See also this update.