A tax change

Opponents of the Harmonized Sales Tax have many reasons to feel morally superior if not smug after the announcement that their object of derision would be no more by the spring of 2013.

Opponents of the Harmonized Sales Tax have many reasons to feel morally superior if not smug after the announcement that their object of derision would be no more by the spring of 2013.

Consider their circumstances at the start of this process more than two years ago, when they first pledged to purge the acronym HST from the annals of provincial politics. They possessed three things: an outraged sense of antagonism towards the elite of this province particularly towards then-premier Gordon Campbell, an equally developed talent for spinning economic fables into facts, and the Pied-Piper-of-Hamelin-like charm of former premier Bill Vander Zalm.

Equipped with this bag of tricks, they turned the tools of the political system designed explicitly to prevent the possibility of popular participation against their cynical designers to reverse an unpopular policy,  protecting the ordinary people of B.C. against greedy fat cats and their political water-carriers. That is what they will tell anybody dim enough to fall for such fairy tales.

Granted, every myth contains a kernel of truth. But a myth is what it is — a fabrication, a piece of fiction, a pleasant lie. In this case, HST opponents led a sufficiently large number of British Columbians to believe their government was out to hurt their individual pocket books. All the available evidence suggests otherwise.

The disadvantages of the taxes were visible, whereas the benefits remained hidden. But this fact would not have diminished the positive effect the tax would have had on the provincial economy, now faced with the task of returning to an old taxation system, that will leave all us on the hook for $3 billion in lost revenue.

Yes, one can take solace in the fact that British Columbians supposedly ranked democratic concerns ahead of utilitarian considerations. But such fictitious high-mindedness comes with a price, and we are about to pay it all.

 

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