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Monday, March 29, 2010

Big Business Calls for Tax Increases to Pay for Harper's Budget Deficits

The Globe and Mail Report on Business top story today is about “Balancing the Books” and quotes a recent survey of corporate executives in Canada where most of them say it is time to raise taxes if the federal government is to balance its books.

Conservatives are fond of their ideological mantra that Klein used often. That was “The only way taxes are going is down.” Well Harper’s promise of deficit budgets through to 2015 and using borrowed funds to do it are just tax increases by other means and they are imposed on our children who will have to pay for the deficits in a time of anticipated extended flat or low economic growth. Hardly the stuff of prudent fiscal management that is the myth of conservative governments and the Harper hypocrisy is showing.

Almost 60% of the Canadian senior executives in the Gandalf poll done for the Globe and Mail said it will be necessary for the federal government to get back into fiscal balance of the public purse. Harper has another plan however. He wants to cut government to the point where it is incapable of doing the public service jobs we expect of a progressive, caring, productive and innovative society.

Harper wants a more Libertarian social and fiscal regime where government’s role is shrunk and stifled. He sees the world as best served where individuals are totally personally responsible for their own well being in a Darwinian law of the jungle kind of competition not only for success but for survival. The poor, infirm, elderly and disabled just have to pull up their socks…if they have them.

Harper has a tentative and tepid toe in the policy pool of fiscal prudence going forward and that is not impressing big business. Half of them think Harper is doing a “poor job of reducing the deficit and 2/3 think it is bad policy to continue to run deficits through to 2015 as the recent Budget says.

So our Ayn Rand wanna be Prime Minister will cut and kill social, cultural, education, aid and support programs instead of raising taxes. This is because Harpers governing philosophy is to diminish and demolish the capacity of government to be an enabler and a partner with society and citizens.

Nobody likes taxes but we all know we need services provided as a society that individuals can’t do themselves. That is one of the fundamental roles and responsibilities of progressive governing and public policy. Business now knows that Harpers slash, trash and burn approach to public policy in social and environmental areas is going to harm Canada’s productivity and capacity to grow in the future and stifle and constrain them as well.

The market place is not the total answer nor is government as nanny state but finding the balance between them is the key. We need governments to help build educated, safe, secure, healthy, diverse, inclusive, innovative, adaptive, resilient and respectful societies where a person can achieve their potential for their own benefit and contribute to the common good at the same time.

None of these concepts are in the Harper play book of grinding down government’s role regardless of the toll it takes on vulnerable people. Business leaders get it but Harper and his callous caucus could care less. We need an election in Canada to have an adult conversation about what kind of government we want and then to see who is prepared to provide it.

Citizens can’t presume cynicism will be ok and we will sustain democracy. That is not the obvious democratic default position when we are governed by social libertarians using fiscal foolishness as a trick to destroy our capacity to be caring and compassionate as a society, to grow our capacity and economy and be assiduous in how we must learn to live in and part of the planet.