Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taxation, sometime blatant, sometimes subtle, but always there.

I read with interest a news article by CBC News detailing a recent poll they have had conducted regarding the willingness of Canadians to pay road tolls. Apparently half of Canadians surveyed said they would be willing to pay road tolls if it would ease gridlock and shorten their commute. The concept of road tolls is simple enough, they allow a government to recoup the cost of a project (the entire cost or a portion) and thus not require it to be paid out of general revenue. This allows the government to complete a project and take credit for it without paying directly for it.

I won't bore you with all the details of the poll as I am more of a "big picture" guy, and in this case it's the big picture that caught my attention. One of the findings of the poll was that on average city commuters appear willing to pay up to $3 a day for road tolls. The simple math on this is that based on 5 work days a week, 50 weeks a year this adds up to $750.00 per year!

Maybe I am naive but don't we pay taxes at multiple levels to support  development and maintenance of our infrastructure?

If you ask a politician why a toll is necessary to build a bridge or roadway I imagine that the answer would be something to the effect of  "under current fiscal restraints we do not have the revenue for such a project" or maybe "there is no room in the budget in the foreseeable future for an undertaking of this type".
So tell me then, why is it they always find the funds for their pet projects or the ones that will garner votes?

Typically when the government shows a deficit in any given year (generally every year) we are told that revenues have fallen or economic growth has been slower than anticipated as reasons for the short fall. These reasons are favorites of politicians as they tend to indicate that forces outside of the "governments control" caused the deficit and as such they really can't be held to account. Unfortunately the reason is far simpler, governments in general have a problem controlling their spending. The reality is that the government collects far more than enough to pay for all the basic necessities they should be looking after. Regardless of the amount collected, revenue will never be enough if spending continues unchecked. Think about it, the government budgets to spend (at all levels) all of what they anticipate they will take in. This means there is little room for error and any unexpected cost  ( natural disasters, higher EI payouts, or 122 million for a museum) puts them in the red (or even further into it), worse yet  in many years they simply budget for a deficit. Don't try this at home folks!

So why on earth would anyone encourage the government by "rubber stamping" the toll concept? Toll or tax, it is all the same, either way the government is taking  additional money out of the pockets of Canadians. Allowing the government to move these kind of projects off the books and turn them into "User Pay" projects just means that they have less reason to rein in their spending.

I for one avoid Toll highways or bridges whenever possible, it's simply my way of saying "No it is not alright".

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