06 November 2010

The proper level of taxes - Calgary's view

Calgary is generally considered a conservative town and conservatives are generally thought to believe that taxes must always be lower. A recent survey indicated that may not always be the case, at least according to Calgary city hall’s annual citizen satisfaction survey.

Thirty-one per cent of the survey's respondents want council to increase taxes to maintain the current level of services. Twenty-seven per cent would prefer to keep the tax rate steady and cut services if necessary. Twenty-four per cent would raise taxes and improve services while only 10 per cent want to cut services to reduce the tax rate. In other words, over 80 per cent of Calgarians want the tax level maintained or increased.

This raises the question, What is the proper level of taxation? In a democracy, one would assume that to be the level that provides the services citizens want and are prepared to pay for. Finding that level will always require much debate among citizens, among different priorities and differing philosophies about public spending.

Unfortunately, that debate is severely truncated in our public forums, particularly our major public forum, the daily press. The daily press is the property of the corporate sector and the corporate sector wants taxes to go in only one direction—down. Nonetheless, the Calgary example suggests Canadians, even conservative ones, are resisting their propaganda.

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