Here’s a puzzle for my readers: try to guess which one of the following two editorials, each of them discussing a slight bump in the tax rate for the wealthiest individuals, comes from The Globe and Mail, and which one comes from the local leftist rag:
|An extra two per cent is a form of punishment for success. If you can’t cut off the head of the tall poppy, tax it.It’s as if to say it’s a bad thing when someone earns lots of money. Better, says the [government], to discourage initiative and entrepreneurship by taxing its successful manifestations. Our society won’t be any more equitable if we bleed the rich a little.||Although the 1-percentage-point increase in the corporate income-tax rate is regrettable, a balance or modest surplus after four successive deficits is an accomplishment in hard times… a rise in medical-services premiums will heighten awareness of health-care costs.|
Just kidding! They’re both from the Globe and Mail. The one on the left was published a year ago, when the Ontario NDP agreed to support that province’s budget in exchange for a slight bump in the upper-bracket tax rates. The one on the right came out this week, after the rather surprising news came out of B.C. that one of the country’s most right-wing political party, the so-called BC Liberal Party — actually a coalition of Harperite Conservatives and unreconstructed Socreds — was contemplating an equally minor tax increase to “balance” its own budget.
I use those quotation marks advisedly. The bottom line is actually a deficit according to any reasonable accounting standards — hundreds of millions of dollars in Crown-owned properties are going to be liquidated to make up the difference, which doesn’t really count as an ongoing revenue source, I should think. That hasn’t received much criticism from the media either.
More appalling is the generally resigned but accepting attitude that has been taken with respect to the tax increases themselves. Which aren’t major: the highest personal income tax bracket gets bumped up slightly, as does the corporate income tax rate and the provincial medicare insurance premium. Nothing to write home over really. The business groups have responded with the usual refrain that this will make B.C. uncompetitive.
But their criticism has been fairly muted, all told. The Globe & Mail, which has never met a right-wing budget it didn’t like, said that the corporate tax hike was “regrettable,” but that the increase in the health tax, which is a flat tax, is actually a good thing because it will “heighten awareness of health-care costs.” Har. And why don’t the tax increases on the wealthy and on corporations serve the same purpose, you might ask?
Anyways, the sneering classist bigotry aside, I can’t help noticing how mild-mannered the media is being about this. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that a Liberal-NDP coalition in Ontario brokered a similarly slight boost in the upper-income tax rates, and, well, all hell broke loose. One business group leader claimed that small increases in income tax were morally equivalent to ethnic cleansing. If we let the NDP influence taxation policy, he claimed, it would be like watching Rome get sacked by the barbarians all over again.
I can’t help but notice that the only obvious difference between the evil barbarian Hitlerite tax increase in Ontario and the regrettable but acceptable and maybe even praiseworthy tax increase in British Columbia is that the Ontario tax increase was brokered by a coalition vote with the NDP, while the B.C. tax increase has been introduced by one of the staunchest right-wing political parties in the country.
Lest you think I’m overplaying the hypocritical-media-partisanship angle, let me pose a thought puzzle: how do you suppose the national media would have reacted if it had been an NDP government, instead of a Liberal-Conservative one, which brought in a modest tax increase in B.C. this week?