Poster Girl for Business

Ho, hum. Another business-friendly budget with a sop to the middle class to keep our palms greased for the election.

I’ve got news for you. A balanced budget with a tax cut is nothing for government to brag about. The job of government is to provide services to citizens. If there’s less money coming in and you’re still balancing the budget, that means you’re providing less services. Which the Provincial Liberals are. There hasn’t been a decent welfare increase for about 10 years. Ask the Disabled how they’re doing. It required the Supreme Court to make the Libereals pay for decent education. And don’t think Christie (remember Education Minister Christie who started the whole mess?) will forget. She’ll be looking to “save” money on education down the road.

No, Mr. Christie’s favourite Biscuit is cutting the taxes to the businessmen who paid for her to get elected, telling us that will stimulate the economy and raise revenue. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge across the Fraser River in Delta I’d love you to pay for.

The graphic above is not idle vandalism. I’m sure the woman in the original photo would say that she provided a legitimate benefit for the people selling the expensive car. Christie is doing exactly the same thing, only on a massive scale. Her photo op is usually at a multi-million dollar factory. The model probably got paid a straight hourly rate for her posing. She didn’t get a $50,000-a-year payoff laundered through a political party.

The Biggest Myth

Does a business income tax cut help businesses? No. It’s an income tax cut. The only way to take advantage of the cut is to take income from the business. So this helps owners and investors to take money out of the business. If taxes remain high, the only way to avoid paying them is to turn the money back into the business, making it better, more efficient, and more profitable (and thus paying more taxes, of course).

But an income tax cut is a direct gift from the government to the owners of each business. Who then have more money to donate to the party who gave them the gift. In places like Russia, this is called corruption. In B.C. it’s called “Good Business.” Or, if you want to repeat the Christie Biscuit mantra, “Creating Jobs.”

Creating Jobs: Another Myth.

Creating jobs isn’t much use if there’s no market for the products of that work. The way I was taught, the market is driven by demand, not pushed along by supply. I’m not sure the government should be in the business of creating jobs at all. Their place is to provide services for the people of the province. Businesses create jobs when there is a demand for their products or services.

Creating Weak Businesses

And even if the tax cut did help business, is that a good idea? Ask the Quebec government what great benefit they got from helping Bombardier. They got an albatross around their necks that (if I may mix a metaphor) has continued to leach money from the provincial coffers for about the last 20 years. Not to blame Quebec. Latest news has Airbus asking the British Government for more help. It seems that a €3.5bn government bailout in 2010 wasn’t quite enough.

In the long run, what’s the difference between giving a huge corporation a billion dollars and giving every business in the province a thousand dollars? In both cases, it creates an artificial ease. Success of the business is not based on the market or free enterprise or the survival of the fittest. Companies can get away with being lax, lazy and out of date because they are being supported by the government.

Same with the softwood lumber market in the US. The protectionism of the American government allowed their lumber producers to keep cutting wood with antiquated methods and machinery. Meanwhile, Canadian mill owners were faced with the realities of a more difficult market. They became leaner, meaner, and more efficient. So these two groups can never meet on a level playing field, and the American mill owners, who have an even more efficient bribery system, will continue to hide behind their legislators. Enter Donald Trump. Bleagh!

What Does B. C. Need?

I won’t bore you with more than my usual observation that the most economical place a government could put our tax money is in the alleviation of child poverty. Children raised in a disadvantaged situation have a good chance of being damaged goods by the time they are ten years old. They will cost the government millions of dollars extra in welfare, medical services, court costs and incarceration services, and cost the general public a similar amount in thefts, gang warfare and vandalism. But oh, no, the Liberals need to give more money to the rich. Kids don’t vote, and if they are brought up poorly educated and disadvantaged, they probably will continue not to vote. Problem solved.

Try Something Different

The very best thing a government could do, which would take more intelligence, diligence, and plain old gumption than most governments have, is to make sure that our tax dollars are spent well. Governments are notoriously lax about what happens to our money. The Auditor General tells us this with a loud voice once every year, and after a momentary spate of righteous indignation, we forget about it for another 358 days. The police need better supervision (note, I said better, not more). The forestry, mining and other companies that deal with our environment need better supervision (not more rules: better oversight). The government needs better supervision, and the only ones who can give us that are the voters.

Over to you, folks.


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