Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

They say that the only sure things in life are death and taxes.  There definitely are other sure things – such as being born, having to breathe to survive, etc. –  but these two are the ones that are most often quoted.

At first glance, death might seem the harsher of the two, the most final, but death is a natural phenomenon – it is neither good nor bad, it just is.

On the other hand, Canada’s current tax system is completely unjust.

...Mainly because they want to take your money...

I don’t say that because I think we shouldn’t have to pay taxes.  I don’t say that because I feel that my tax money isn’t doing as much for society as I think it should.  I say that because Canada’s tax system is basically a tax on hard work.  It is a system that takes more money from those who work harder to make what little they can just because they make it.

Let me clarify what I’m trying to say here.  Canada’s tax system collects a higher percentage of one’s wages if one earns higher than a certain threshold.  If I earn $1000 per week I am taxed at a higher percentage than if I only earned $500.  When the money you take home each week is directly linked to how hard or how long you have to work, as it is in construction for instance, it is a complete disgrace that a greater percentage of a person’s income is torn from their grasp.

I ask you: what right does the government or society have to tax people more because they work harder??

The simple answer is that it doesn’t have that right at all.  A more complex one would be that the government feels that people don’t need more than a certain amount of money and think that the money could be better used elsewhere.  That isn’t a decision that the government is entitled to make on behalf of the people.  Yes, we elect them and let them make decisions for us, but that does not give them the right to decide what happens to the fruits of my labours.

Let’s look at it in a slightly different manner…

We can safely say that work is for the benefit of society in one way or another.  Society demands some kind of service and pays a person to provide that service.  Many people may use the service, many people may not, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that someone demands a service and someone else provides it.  This system is what our current economy and way of life is dependent on.  To be otherwise would be to go back to the days where a person’s food, clothing, and belongings were made or created by the person themselves.  (I’m not necessarily saying that a self-providing lifestyle is bad, but rather that it isn’t the reality that we currently find ourselves in.)

So, when a person works they give back to society.  When a person gets paid it is a recognition that the person has contributed some value to society.  They have essentially given back to society already, before taxes have even been put into the equation.

Taxes are necessary, there’s no getting around that.  How else would we pay for necessary improvements to infrastructure (roadways, railway tracks, police and fire departments, health care, etc.)?  These are things that everyone uses and everyone should pay for and pay for equally.  Why do some people have to pay measurably more just because they make more money?

Since people already contribute to society through work and basic taxes, it can’t be some payment of debt to society that is incurred by the hard-working segment of society.  One would actually think that because people contribute more value to society through their work that they would be taxed less initially.  So, what kind of justification can there be for the current tax system?

What would make more sense is a system that taxes those who don’t work more as they have a larger debt to pay to society.  Such a system would have some flaws in that there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around for everyone – hence having an unemployment rate above 0%.  However, it would not be the farce that is currently being propagated by the Canadian government.

A counter argument that some would pose is that quite often the people earning high amounts of money really aren’t deserving of that kind of wage, and it is an interesting counter-argument.  However, one must remember that someone’s wage is determined only by a kind of relative value.  A person’s paycheque is relative to the amount of value the employer feels the person brings to the table.  If a CEO makes $3 million it is only because the owner/owners/shareholders of the company feel that the CEO is worth that much money to the company.  If they didn’t feel that the person’s value matched their wage demands, then they could easily find someone willing to take the job for less (although they are likely going to get less value in return).

For athletes it is even easier to measure their value as most professional leagues in North America legislate that players shall earn a certain percentage of the league’s revenue.  The fans (read shareholders) determine the revenues through ticket and merchandise sales, thus indirectly determining the value of the players.  It is all relative.

We must also remember that tied up in this concept of value is a measurement of whether a person actually earns their pay.  If someone is getting paid $XXX, then it has been determined that they actually earn that money.  If they aren’t truly earning it, then they will likely be fired or have to take a pay cut.

I earned this money, I should be able to decide what to do with it.

The piece that ties this together is the theme that underlies this whole post: what you earn is yours and shouldn’t be taken from you in an unreasonable manner.  The principle holds the same for the CEO and the athlete just as much as it does for the construction worker or the bus boy.

The bottom line is that the sham that is Canada’s tax system is a complete slap in the face to those who work hard each and every day to make enough money to make ends meet.  If I work extra hours because I need the money to pay my bills it certainly doesn’t help when the government dips their hand into my pocket to steal money that isn’t theirs.

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this is that the money we earn and the things we purchase with that money should be ours and ours alone to decide what to do with.  It should not be up to someone else, even if that someone else is an elected official – there are many people in the Canadian government that I would not trust with my money, to decide that my hard-earned pay should be taxed to a higher degree.

It does not make sense…or dollars for that matter…

Yes, you heard it correctly.  After what seemed like an eternity of student elections we have been plunged back into the world of expensive campaigns, designer websites, non-informative campaign videos, and a bunch of candidates who just want to be popular enough to get the vote.

No, Andrew Forgione has not been forced to step down as USC President-elect due to connections with the Italian mafia.

I know it's hard, but it's every Canadian's right to do it...

I am actually talking about the Canadian Federal Election that is set to happen on May 2nd, 2011.  For most people my age, this will be the first time that you are able to cast a vote for the government of this great country, and I hope that you use it to the fullest.

However, that means that you will actually have to pay attention to what’s going on in the world of politics.  Hint: following topics like #cdnpoli or #elxn41 on Twitter would be a good start for the social media inclined (that includes myself).  That also means reading platforms that might seem like a bunch of throwaway promises designed to lock in the vote of a certain demographic.

Because it is important to vote.  I know that is said every time an election rolls around and it is always met by the same snorts of ‘yeah, right’ or ‘one vote won’t make any difference.’  And those claims might be true in a two-party, two-candidate system like what is used in the United States.

Your vote is your voice.  It might seem like your voice isn’t loud enough to make a difference, but the point is that you use it.  Because when you actually speak up, someone somewhere will hear you and pay attention.  Hopefully that someone will be your local MP who represents you at Parliament.

It’s not about whether your vote will be the deciding vote in the election.  It’s not about picking the winner in a landslide election or jumping on a bandwagon (*cough*, Obama, *cough*).  It’s about the mandate.

Any elected official is given the mandate to represent the voters and that mandate is only as strong as the number of voters who turn out to the polls.  A smaller number of voters means that the government’s mandate is not as strong as if every single eligible voter actually voted.  It’s the difference between a couple people saying something and the whole country saying something and, in all honesty, which one would you be more likely to listen to?

These government types are all master-debaters!

So vote, if only to put pressure on the government to do its job.  And then, if it doesn’t do its job, you can complain about it and protest.  If you don’t vote, you don’t have that right.  You can only complain about the government if you give them a mandate.  If you don’t and refuse to vote, then you forfeit the right to complain about their actions.  You didn’t vote for them or against them and in doing so lost your right to comment on anything that the government did while in power.

So, use your voice and vote!

This talk of mandates leads me to think of another problem I have with voting practices: the practice of voting for a party rather than a person.

In the Canadian system, we elect MPs from our local riding to represent the voice of that riding at Parliament.  Then, the party that has the most elected MPs is asked to form the government and the Prime Minister is chosen by dint of being the leader of the popular party.  It is expected that we vote for our MP, and not for the Prime Minister.  So why then do we vote for parties and not people?

Voting for parties may get us the party that matches most with our ideals in power, but the ideals of the Conservative party and a Conservative candidate may not be identical.  That same candidate could meet the same base ideals, but radically differ on things such as gun control or daycare.  They also could just be not the best candidate.  There may be someone out there who is more responsive to the voters and more capable of being heard in Parliament.

Simply put, a party does not make a candidate who they are.  A party simply gives them a platform to be a candidate.  It doesn’t change who a candidate is or how they are going to do the job.

All of this is why, when exercising your right to vote, you should vote for the candidate in your riding that best represents your riding regardless of what party they are running under.  They may be running as a member of the Galactic Empire Party for all that allegiance is worth.

While we’re on the topic of candidates in ridings, how much campaigning do you think Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe, and Elizabeth May are doing in their home ridings?  How much campaigning are they doing to ensure that people see them as the best person to represent the wishes of the people?  Or are they always on the road promoting their parties?

Jack Layton's tan made me confused as at first I thought he was a Typical Western Girl.

In all honesty, if any of those candidates were in my riding, I would not vote for them.  Not because I have anything against the parties that they lead, but rather because they put going on publicity tour as a higher priority than actually engaging the voters of their riding.  I’m sure the other candidates in Jack Layton’s riding aren’t just sitting around with their feet up because they know Layton is in the same riding.  They are likely out there trying to get to know the thousands of people in their riding and understand exactly what they want from their MP.  Leaders like Layton though are off being celebrities (and Layton certainly looks like one with the traffic cone coloured tan that he’s been rocking so far this campaign period).

Things like televised debates and Vote Compass don’t help this situation either.  They are all about breaking down politics into broad, generalized Party ideals.  They have no time for picking the best candidates, only for painting anyone who runs under the Bloc Quebecois banner with the same brush.  They chase voters to the ideals that match up best with their answers to questions, completely missing the point that the ideals of parties and candidates don’t always match up.

So, when your casting your ballot like a dutiful Canadian, vote for the candidate that best represents your ideals, not just the one who is best friends with the leader of their party.  Voting for the best candidate will only result in a better, more responsive government instead of one that is content to avoid transparency and public opinion like the plague.

At the end of the day, no matter who you vote for, do the right thing and vote.  Earn your right to complain when the winning party fails to live up to its promises!