Those who were unable to attend the Wolfville Back to Balance dialogue session Feb. 8 with Graham Steele might be interested in this document [PDF alert!] “summarizing” the opinions expressed.
It is a depressing document for us to read in that there seems to be an excessive appetite for increased taxation in most, if not all, of the groups.
• Increase income tax• Increase HST • Increase tax on junk food, liquor and tobacco, trans fatty foods, gambling• Increase corporate taxes• Increase diesel fuel tax • Tax very large inheritances, except family farms• tax surcharge over $65,000/year• Add a surcharge on gas in Metro areas• Tax all money spent outside of Canada [!!!] • Legalize marijuana and prostitution – then tax [!!!]
Tax, tax, tax! We would remind them that Nova Scotia is running out of “rich” people. It is even running out of a middle class. And then there is this thoughtful suggestion – “Stop being involved in capitalism“. It’s enough to make one cry.
The other discouraging thread in this “dialogue” is the green one.
” Emphasize “green” technologies and their applications” – and this in the Increase Revenue section. Hard to credit. Surely they know these technologies need to be heavily subsidized to be viable. And for what return? Are we to be another Spain?
The members of many of the groups appear to live on a completely different planet than the rest of us, where economic realities and the predictable consequences don’t apply.
There were a few sensible suggestions in the mix, mostly in the Reducing Costs sections.
• Keep pay increases to 1%• Review and audit all costs• Rationalize universities and colleges.• No spending increases to any programs • Get a handle on Health Care costs• Use a zero base budget plan for each department• Grants to municipalities need to be closely monitored• Look at underground economy that is not being taxed• Examine barriers to businesses• Reduce wastage in government, increase efficiency of government programs – i.e. health care, and increase transparency regarding expenditures• Listen to your constituents• Simplify bureaucracy
But overall it is clear that most of those who attended have a rather naive belief in the power of central planning and the efficacy of government programs and as a corollary a distrust of market forces in leading to desired outcomes. This is exactly opposite to what has been shown throughout history. Is it only those who have lived in the lunacy of fully managed systems who can appreciate the failings and dangers?
My lifelong experience tells me that I have to start protesting very loudly when someone tells me: “Don’t trust the market, trust me and us.”