Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tax REform....

At lunch time yesterday I heard this story.  IT is a proposal to introduce a Provincial goods and service tax to Alberta in the name of reducing corporate and personal income taxes.

Now I am not opposed to consumption taxes.  I think they have a role in the tax system.  But this proposal is not the right solution for Alberta at this time.  In fact this proposal would COST people at the lower end of the spectrum, the people currently not paying income tax at all money.  It would, in fact RAISE their taxes.  And I can almost guarantee that the proposed tax credit would be less than the amount people would pay out over the year.

The better cure for the Alberta tax system is to dump the (very bad, benefits the high income earners) flat tax and return to a graduated tax system.  And then maybe you can legitimately raise the personal exemption so more Albertans are not paying income tax (although I would question raising it as high as they are suggesting).

But in the end it is pretty much political suicide in Alberta to try and introduce a consumption tax.  So I suspect this will go on a shelf somewhere and collect dust.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Letter to the Editor on Wealth Redistribution

September 17, 2013

RE: “Robin Hood” Editorial of September 16.

I need to begin by saying that we live in a society of , generally, caring people. But I also believe we can do SO SO much better in order to actually be a caring society. And reading this editorial yesterday morning pushed many of my buttons.

Full disclosure. I am a Social Democrat/Democratic Socialist. I fully believe the role of society, through its elected government is to create a more equitable distribution of wealth. My faith requires nothing less. And the measure of whether that is being done well enough is not in the measures listed in the editorial (which I assume came from outside Alberta since it references an progressive tax system that we sadly did away with under the reign of Ralph Klein and Stockwell Day). The measure of how well we are redistributing wealth is in a basic question.

Does everybody have their basic needs to food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care met?

Now I ask you can you honestly say that is true of Canadian society? No, most certainly not. And so we have to do better.

But instead the editorial complains that we are “robbing” the rich and then suggests that not only are we giving those at the bottom end too much but that it is their own fault that they are poor. I quote: “That's still a shame. Not just because everyone else is shelling out for this. But because these people clearly aren't living up to their potential.”

Frankly the top earners in any country, particularly when they make several hundred times more than the lowest earners should pay the majority of the tax bill. If you earn over 500 000 and pay 66% as a practical tax rate (which I am sure NOBODY does) you are still taking home more than a whole slew of Canadians. Isn't that enough to do to ensure that you neighbours don't have to choose between food and rent?

I agree, let us try and grow, sustainably, the economy. But lets also let our neighbours live in dignity while we do it. In then end, it will make growing the economy easier if more people have money to spend.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Book 9 of 2013 -- Switch

Last summer I read this book.  And I found it worthwhile enough that I bought another by the same authors--but apparently took a while to get around to reading it.  This summer I worked my way toward Switch

Switch is about managing change.  I actually was at a con-ed event in the spring where the presenter referred to the book in his talks.  The Heath brothers use the metaphor of a elephant rider and break change down into three things:  Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.

This book is full of helpful insights.  For example the directing of the Rider is an act of will.  But it is also tiring to always be directing the rider, so that leads to the importance of motivating the elephant.  Much less tiring than always steering it against its will. 

The Heaths routinely include stories and anecdotes to illustrate their points.  The writing is accessible and easy to follow.  All of us who work with change management (which at some point of time is ALL of us) would be well served by reading this book.