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Are taxes a necessary evil, as a province or municipality moves forward?

Posted on January 10, 2017 by Sunny South News

Should Alberta just suck it up and implement a sales tax like other provinces? A sales tax would help cover the costs of updating aging infrastructure. It could help boost health care. It could go towards many a good thing, as long as it isn’t spent frivolously or to line the pockets of provincial politicians or big business. The new carbon levy is simply a tax. Let’s not sugar coat it. But, every government does it. They often call taxes levies or extra fees instead of the bad “T” word. The PCs have tried desperately to keep taxes down to the point of not being able to pay for anything Albertans need.
For so long, the PCs in Alberta in the past have cut services and centralized this and that to try and streamline their super-flawed system. If there’s no money coming in, how can the government pay for anything? A business needs to make money (revenue) in order to keep afloat. But again, said revenue needs to be spent wisely. The government is no exception, except it’s not a business and the government spends taxpayer money.
If Albertans knew their money was being spent on important things, most Albertans would no doubt be OK with chipping in. A carbon levy is supposed to be good for climate change and help Alberta transition to better and more socially responsible energy. And, for those using and perhaps abusing energy — to be somewhat financially on the hook for it, to a certain degree.
If a motorist has ever been to a gas station over the past 20 years, they would see the price of gasoline fluctuate up, down, sideways and backwards. There have already been fees associated with gasoline purchases for decades. Government fees and revenue for gas companies. But, what is supposed to be different this time is, a certain percentage of a gasoline price — the carbon levy — is supposed to go towards green initiatives and towards Alberta’s growth and evolution. So, the fee actually will be going to something worthwhile, as opposed to simply being revenue for big business. Yes, the government has always taken a big chunk from gasoline prices too, and supposedly that money is used for funding natural resource development and such.
If you visit Las Vegas, there’s an entertainment tax at most establishments serving liquor, even if there’s no entertainment. In Ontario and British Columbia and elsewhere, taxes are collected for a provincial sales tax and for the country-wide goods and services tax. It’s time Albertans start discussing Alberta’s future and how it will be funded. The province can’t live off of hugs, kisses and cutting off spending on much-needed services and the like.
Being conservative with spending could be a plus, but cut-cut-cut doesn’t solve problems in the future. A majority of Albertans seem to be afraid of the very notion of a tax or taxes. But, for good reason. Many times, taxes have not gone towards what is best. Instead, it has been wasted on many questionable expenditures. And, let’s face it, many Albertans are financially strapped and are barely getting by.
Here’s a hypothetical idea to ponder. Instead of the government hiring a whole bunch of people to do this or that, couldn’t they consolidate or centralize and lessen the amount of employees it hires? Does the government have to pay big bucks to advertise the new carbon levy or any other initiative it comes up with. Sure, the government wants to get the word out, but today with social media, community journalism, and the like — expenditures could be cut and the word could be spread without a big cost at the taxpayers’ expense.
Nobody likes taxes, but taxes are inevitable in an ever-changing world. Roads and other infrastructure, schools, hospitals — without taxes, these would cease to exist. One answer would be holding a government (local, provincial or federal) accountable for its actions. Perhaps constituents could go to the polls more often to state opinions or fill out surveys or be a part of the political process, more than just voting every four years and calling it a day.
Again, with social media and regular traditional media and the like — it is easier than ever to be a part of the political process, big or small. From a new bridge to a new hospital being built. Taking it to the streets, so to speak, isn’t as hard as it used to be.
Public consultation and engagement is a must in today’s society. But, elected officials need to make sure they are listening and allow for a government’s electors to not necessarily agree with everything a government says or does.
A government is but a supposed representation of a population. The populace needs to speak out, but needs to allow its government to do what is necessary to move forward, even if that means implementing a tax.

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