Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tory thinking compared with Putin's Russia

William Watson on Fin Min Flaherty's suggestion that the Tories might renege on PM Harper's income-splitting promise:
... The buzz is that the government may backtrack on its promise to introduce income-splitting once it has balanced the budget. 

... If the Tories do decide not to spend a couple of billion dollars establishing what most of their supporters do think of as fairness in the tax system, they need to come up with a better rationale than the one they’ve floated so far, which is the Liberal-technocratic one that in today’s labour market the skill shortage is so acute we mustn’t do anything that encourages skilled workers to withdraw ...

Don’t we know there’s a skill shortage (supposedly) and a productivity crisis (supposedly) and that, like our Olympic athletes, we all need to put our shoulder to the wheel for the Motherland?
Well, that may be how they do things in Putin’s Russia, where the leadership regards every Russian as one of Putin’s workers. But it’s not how we do things here. We’re not all Harper’s, or Flaherty’s, workers.

How we do things here is that we establish a fair tax system that raises the revenues we need to pay for basic services  .... And then we let people make their own decisions about the relative worth of making an extra dollar of market income versus tending to their own or their family’s needs.  In particular, we don’t have a policy that says, even implicitly, a woman’s place is in the labour market combating the skill shortage.
Strengthening families by increasing their options has been core Conservative social policy from square one. And tax policy that encourages people to raise families is one way (besides immigration) to help sustain our economic growth. It is also a step towards an effective alternative to unaffordable "progressive" programs like national universal daycare.

If Stephen Harper fails to keep his income-splitting promise it will be at the Conservatives' peril. While no serious Conservative supporter would waste his vote on any other party, many, like me, would simply withhold their vote and stop donations if betrayed on this.


Alain said...

Even though I cannot benefit from income splitting, if the government reneges on this promise, they lose my support and vote. My wife and I raised four children on a single income, since it was our choice to have a stay-at-home parent instead of farming our children out to strangers. This certainly required a lot of sacrifices on our part, and I shall never forget how we were discriminated against by the tax system compared to double income families with the same number of children. It stunk to high heaven. Still we preferred to invest in the well being of our children and have no regrets. To suggest that a stay-at-home parent does not work, or that her or his work has no value is rubbish and insulting. I still recall the few times when due to my wife being hospitalised I had to do her job. Trust me it was far easier in the away from home work force, and I came to appreciate what she actually did manage in a day. Let the government honour its campaign promise and actually grant a choice to couple raising children. The idea that women must be forced into the away from home work force is pure marxism. Yes, the same people who demand choice when it comes to things like abortion. In this matter I am pro-choice.

Anonymous said...

No benefit for me...but it was a promise based on deficit slaying and must be honoured

Anonymous said...

The signalling that they might not follow through with it is clever.

They know that the economy is fragile right now, implementing splitting will be expensive, and they don't want to be having to deal with drastically reduced revenues in an election year if the economy is stagnant or shrinking. If they implement, they can't also implement any significant extra spending to
woo voters outside their base, since the balance sheet won't sustain it, nor can they drastically cut spending to pay for it and appease the base, since it creates a really nasty narrative that's very exploitable by the opposition.

If the economy is robust and beats growth expectations, they'll implement splitting, and the whole signalling that they might not implement it that we're hearing now can be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Personally though, I really hope they don't implement it. It works well in a utopian society, but the reality I think is that the vast majority of families just cannot survive on a single income. People understand this, and politically it's a bit of a dangerous move-- it looks like cynical vote buying since the bulk of the people that truly benefit are families that are already well off. It gets out the vote of the hard-core base, but they will vote regardless. It hurts the rest of the vote though.

Realistically though, and politics aside, I think there are better ways to use that money.

Anonymous said...

As long as they don't get rid of income splitting for retired couples, or put a cap on it as the Liberals or New Democrats will probably do.

Anonymous said...

@anon 3:19

1) There already is a cap on it.
2) Even the proposed income splitting change they're talking about has a cap.

Anonymous said...

Harper makes lots of promises that he reneges on. He lost my vote when he promised to never run a deficit then ran the largest deficits in Canadian history. The Chr├ętien Liberals paid down the debt and Harper added 25% to the National a Debt. It's laughable he claims to be competent on the economy.

Anonymous said...

Troll...please provide a link of Mr. Harper making that promise. Just because you keep saying it doesn't make it true.

Alain said...

The claim that income splitting for families with children will only benefit those who are well off is baseless. There is a cap of $50,000. It is actually those with a lower family income who will benefit. Speaking of benefits assisting families with children is a definite benefit for Canada. At present Canadians do not produce enough children to sustain the existing population, which gives those supporting mass immigration a reason to push these high levels. As for the argument that we need all women in the away-from-home work force, I repeat this is pure marxism. Allow women a choice, and may I add that some couples may choose to have a stay-at-home father.

The only other way outside of a flat income tax to ensure fairness and non discrimination would be to tax the whole family income. If both work, tax them at the total income of both.

Jen S said...

@anon 10:21

I too am a long-term PC/Reform/CPC voter. Harper did in fact make that promise, which I am still quite disgusted by:

"We will not run a deficit"

"can you clearly and unequivocally rule out running a deficit at any point during your term? Yes".