What’s good for business is good for the individual taxpayer. That is a theme that’s run through B.C. politics for decades, and explains in part everyone on either the right or left of the political spectrum in this province.
But it’s not unique to B.C. We see that theme re-occur in every national election, and we see it played out predominantly these days in the U.S.
And it’s showing itself as well in Kelowna’s pending municipal election, where Walter Gray is running for mayor with a definite pro-business slant.
But is what’s good for business really in the best interests of taxpayers? Is the potential for creating jobs worth signing off for with your vote regardless of what other issues the business lobby interests are gunning for with an election victory?
In the U.S., for example, where corporations are enjoying record profits, and American manufacturing jobs are being outsourced by those same corporations to lower production costs and provide a convenient tax shelter, the working man in that country is getting the shaft. But whether voters will catch on to that before that country’s 2012 presidential election, or fall prey to the heavily financed business lobby’s message that says President Barrack Obama is to blame for the country’s economic mess, remains to be seen.
Here in B.C, the most glaring example of that growing discourse between business and the taxpayer was over the HST. The business community was in favour of it, but consumers rebelled against it because they felt it was an unfair burden on their pocketbooks.
Another study released last week by the federal government revealed how, despite the rising value of the loonie next to the U.S. dollar, the price of goods is still often cheaper south of the border than it is in Canada. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he wants to get tough on companies he perceives as overcharging for their products, but what is he really going to do since his Conservative Party is largely bankrolled by business interests.
The corporate takeover of politics in North America, be it in Canada or the U.S., has been going on since Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. president in 1980.
He introduced a wave of Conservatism into American politics, one aspect of which was to start to dismantle regulatory agencies that got in the way of business doing their thing, which is too often plundering resources for profits without any real thought to the long-term implications.
Some corporations have rebelled against the municipal tax load on them, calling it both unfair and a restraint on future business growth.
The hard questions in all this is what is a fair tax-sharing load between taxpayers and businesses, and what our fiscal priorities should be for governments faced with an aging baby boomer population. So far, only the business lobby interests are trying to impose an answer.
Barry Gerding is the managing editor of the Kelowna Capital News.