Fiscal Conservatives, on the other hand, enjoy these services while abusing taxes as the necrotizing flesh disease of Canadian life.
Neo-liberals cut taxes first, Stanford says, while the programs exist, thus creating a deficit that is used to justify further cuts. We are manipulated. For example, we are told that we can’t afford pensions. Neither can we raise payroll taxes to raise CPP benefits for the future.
But we can pay them if we choose to.
We are more than just consumers and taxpayers. We are citizens with responsibilities for one another; we undertake to do some things together, things that we could never do alone or that we can do much better collectively. Taxes are the way we pay for those things. They’re the price of living in Canada and the opportunities that provides. Indeed, those opportunities exist because of the sacrifices and taxes of previous generations to build the Canada we inherited.
Of course, a minority will never be convinced, and we will always have legitimate disputes about the right amount and mix of taxes. But the majority does value what their taxes buy. Nonetheless, they worry about how government spends, inevitably circling back to the problem of waste. Why would I want to pay taxes when so much is wasted?
Yet perceptions of wasteful spending persist. In part, concern about government waste is a proxy for differences in values. What we call waste is often spending we don’t much like (say, the arts from the right, or military spending from the left). That’s the stuff of elections as we try to choose a government that reflects our priorities.