I should perhaps start by qualifying this book as a non academic effort, and myself as far from an academic. I have on occasion been introduced as being a graduate of the school of hard knocks, certainly not academic. In my opinion, what I present is simply rational thought. You will not find references to reports, studies, statistics and all that stuff. What this book offers is simply a sum of my learning and opinions. I highly recommend that you ask your Member of Parliament for their opinion on the rationality of any of this material.
With work and family, and life, I spent a lifetime without seriously studying and understanding our economy and policies. I did not question our politicians and governments. I, like you, trusted in authority. Yes, like you, I read the papers and listened to the news, and discussed what that provided. I even worked in all levels of business,and with Canadian government and foreign governments. I even had a lifetime involvement in politics, from campaigning for candidates to being one, then serving as a legislator. Also, like you I had studies, work, family and life, to use up every hour of every day, and night.
Fifty years ago, I questioned certain income tax policies. Some of them were obviously designed to put wealth in the hands of those who would save and invest. I assumed that those who were given this excess would provide money to grow the infrastructure and productive business. I had my concerns printed in a submission to a national professional journal. The trouble is that the money not go there. It went to make the rich richer while everyone else got poorer.
About 7 years ago I stopped working, I now had the time to learn and think. While taking up that challenge, I became interested in economic, monetary and fiscal policy. University courses, books, lectures and interviews have convinced me that our governments, of the last 50 years, have surrendered the decisions on our political lives to self interested elites. I also believe that our representatives favour only politics, not serving Canadians.
Younger Canadians, especially, should be interested in these rational, sometimes radical, concepts of government policies. But also all those whose income is below $400,000. per year should be interested. They all have been betrayed. Those with the big incomes usually have them because of the policies now in effect. Policies that my generation have allowed and which result in massive debt and a shrinking middle class. Not only is it taxation policies, but also the lack of policies regarding corporations, securities markets and international trade. It is all part of the reason for the rich getting richer and the middle class shrinking.
Much that we are led to believe about the economy is basically wrong. (a) It is wrong that all consumption of goods and services is necessary for the country. Consumption requires, uses up and destroys, energy, resources and work. Work and production is necessary, and if not consumed, accumulates as national wealth. (b) It is wrong that income tax is a good tax. It is a tax on work, on what one produces. It is taxed even if the income is saved to become national wealth. It is better to tax consumption and exempt savings. (c) It is wrong to encourage foreign ownership of our country. Our trade deficits, mostly caused by consumption of foreign goods, have been covered off by selling our country, piece by piece. (d) It is wrong that the government allows the private banks to create money and then loan it back to the government at interest. The Bank of Canada provided those loans at one time and paid interest back to Government, and can do it again. As the first Governor of the Bank of Canada stated “Anything physically possible and desirable can be made financially possible.” Just as the Bank of Canada did for the TC Highway and the St. L. Seaway and other projects until 1974.
There are things that could and should be changed, or at least considered, discussed and debated. Such as reduce the tax on work and production to be replaced by tax on things that are not beneficial to people and the economy. Reduce the tax on people and increase tax on things. Simplify taxation by eliminating the complications , which mostly favour the top 10% of Canadians. Introduce currency controls or tariffs to eliminate trade and currency deficits. Restore the Bank of Canada as creator of Canadian money. I urge that MP’s be questioned on these points.
THREE DECADES AGO
“Canadians have been too complacent. We have taken democracy for granted and have not accepted personal responsibility for its survival. Sleepwalking towards extinction, we have surrendered the decisions on our political lives to self interested elites. Our history has been one of trust in authority, and that authority has betrayed us.”
Cover of book Take Back The Nation published 1991
POLICIES TO THINK ABOUT
The WHY and HOW are explained later.
- (1) No personal tax on incomes under $15,000 single or on the first $15,000 of wages.
- (2) No tax on business income which is not paid out to investors, then a 50% withholding tax.
- (3) Tax on all imports at least equal to all tax included in Canadian production cost.
- (4) Put a transaction tax on all securities tradeing.
- (5) Make broad use of excise and commodity taxes.
- (6) Tax on fossil fuels or carbon tax.
- (7) Restore the Bank of Canada policy to create money.
- (8) Eliminate financing of current account government deficits.
- (9) Bank of Canada to create all money only for government infrastructure.
- (10) Withdraw Canada from world and regional banks.
- (11) Finally; Deposit $300.00 to every Canadian, each week, as payment for the use of Canada’s resources.
All of these concepts are feasible and worthy of discussion and debate. As radical as these may seem, thinking, while reading this book may convince you.
Canada, as most Canadians should like it to be, and as it could be, can be a society of healthy, wea;hy and wise people. Healthy of mind and body because they are well fed and free of worries. Wealthy because they all have work to do that provides personal satisfaction and sufficient wealth for daily consumption and some savings for the future. Wise because they must serve, or rationally select others, to govern their country. Most Canadians do not want to see any people go without the necessities of life. Most Canadians do not want to see hunger, homelessness, street people, food banks and other signs of depredation or suffering.
Our country is not as it should be. This series of articles are prompted by my recent efforts to understand what has caused the rise of such great inequality among Canadians. I was, and am, astounded that I had such little knowledge and understanding of our economy and the effects of government policy. Most Canadians realize that many of our taxation policies are irrational and lack economic foundation. We trusted our elected representatives and governments to look after the interests of our country and thereby our people. We read the papers and watched the news and assumed that all was well. It is obvious that most Canadians are like I was, uninformed and too trusting of our elected representatives.
Our economy should be as it was during the first half of my life. There was work for all who were able. The country was producing enough for everyone, and enough extra to maintain a positive trade balance. Incomes were growing evenly for rich, poor and for a growing middle class. The mixed economy, balanced between private and public activity, was providing both an increased standard of living and growing Government services and infrastructure. Every generation was doing better than the one before. We had functioning democratic capitalism and distributive justice over the production and wealth of our country.
But now ….. Food banks, homelessness, expanded drug and liquor use, inequality with income and wealth increasing for the few and decreasing for the many. There is greed by the few who are abetted by an apparent loss of morality by the professionals that aid in tax evasion and unjust financial practices. Growth of gross domestic product is not sustained by healthy production but by increasing private debt ( four trillion dollars ). Two and one half trillion government public debt has also been incurred, not by increasing public wealth, but to pay current expenses. For years I did not know, as most of you do not, that our Governments and the media are misinforming and misleading the public about their policies.
There are an abundance of faults in our government expressed by almost everyone. There must be understanding and discussion of alternative policies. You know that we must make changes. I welcome support or criticism.
BRIEF ECONOMIC HISTORY
Most economists and commentators identify the 1970s at the turning point from our period of “The Golden Years”. But there is another turning point, the 1920s. Both are times when economies changed from manufacturing and production economies to financial economies. Both in the 1920s, and since 1970, the money men were directing our politicians. They created bubbles of asset values by creating money and debt. The politicians’ lack of economic smarts, and failure to provide regulation and control, allowed the Great Depression. The financial interests were too greedy. The financial failure also compounded the economic distress that Germany suffered from reparations of WWI. The Nazi party took over and grew the German economy, which led to WWII. The Great Depression caused great hardship. Then at great cost and suffering, WWII increased the demand for production which rejuvenated the productive economy in Canada.
The war economy carried over to the mixed economy of the Golden Years. Government investment, new social services, and the resumption of individual consumption, required work and production. Government regulation and control kept the financial interests in check. Government support of research and innovation, together with public financing of infrastructure, assured work and production that improved standards of living for all.
The economic order, resulting in large from the policies dictated by the USA at the Bretton Woods agreements, worked too well. The USA became a trade debtor, the gold standard fell, and the US fiat dollar became the world trade currency. The financial interests encouraged government and banks to create money and raised interest rates, causing inflation in the 1970s and 1980s. The financial sector blossomed while workers suffered from policy changes and shrinking employment. Workers earnings have not shared in the increased productivity or with the money creation. This has all gone to the financial sector, those who get it without working for it.
It seems as we are now back to the 1920s, the money men are allowed to create bubbles of asset values by creating money and debt. The politicians lack economic smarts, and fail to provide regulation and control. The promoters of the Global Economy have favoured Global corporations, not countries or people. People in other countries are rising up against those in charge. They reflect the anger of the majority against those of the last 50 years who have let it happen. Canadians have that anger but do not rise up. They fail to vote or do so with little time or effort devoted to selecting the independent candidates that want change. Instead, they cast their vote as influenced by advertising in the same way they are sold a can of beans.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
The world is facing environmental and economic destruction. Neither can be avoided without a cure for both. Financial and corporate globalism have resulted in degradation of the environment and transfer of wealth and power from the many to the few. The climate crisis grows faster and more pervasive month by month. It is not hopeless, humanity can not give up, but we must act now. Canada can be the first, and show the way, to transform the political and economic system that so many countries have fallen prey to.
Environmental degradation is the result of the production and consumption of goods and services. Our rich western countries consume much more of everything, and are responsible for much more environmental damage, than our numbers warrant. The first thing that must be done is to reduce excessive and unnecessary consumption. Instead of our people working to produce and destroy wealth, let us work to produce lasting wealth for ourselves and our country. At the same time we will save our planet.
It appears that all political parties control our elected members, not the members who control the parties. It is not the members, but the financial people who control the parties. It is obvious, based on the obscene cost of politics and political campaigns, that it is those who want most who contribute the most. The banks are big contributors. Well they should, their profits depend on it. The Governments of the last 45 years have allowed them to create most of our money, on which they earn interest. The other members of the financial industry should also contribute a lot. They have been allowed to create financial instruments without value and trade securities which divert investment from productive assets to financial bubbles. On top of it all, they have legislated taxation policies that are so complicated that they obscure their effort to enrich the few at cost to the workers.
PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
Production and consumption are functions of the economy. The economy has been based on the encouragement of consumption as if it were the only source of production. Production need not be consumed. It can also produce physical and human resources of lasting benefit to all Canadians. The volume of consumption ranges from the provision of the basic living needs for the majority of individuals, to the excessive standards of living, and wealth, of the few.
All consumption requires three elements, energy, resources and human work.The laws of Thermodynamics establish that nothing can be produced without energy. The main cause of our environmental problems has come from for the extraction of energy from fossil fuels. But, technology has developed our ability to harvest energy directly from the sun, the wind and the thermal heat in the earth. All produce clean energy without adding carbon and other contaminants to our atmosphere.
THE GOLDEN YEARS
Following WWII we developed a strong mixed economy. That time is called the “Golden Years” when Government and industry shared in creating value and economic growth and a better standard of living for all. Strong leadership, and strong will of the people, can concentrate effort to reverse the destruction of our environment and restore a just society.
Our climate war this time requires that production be ramped up for green production just as we ramped up for the production of tanks and planes. We need the government to order solar, wind and other green energy equipment in the volumes necessary to support factories to produce them. We need debt free finances to encourage the conversion of every household to be a green energy generator, with a pay back from that energy production. We need publicly owned electrical energy distribution infrastructure to integrate both public and private electrical generation.
WHERE WE ARE BEING LED
Intentionally, or through lack of responsibility, the political parties and politicians of Canada have followed the economic direction dictated by international financial and corporate interests. Those interests will result in the end of the United States dollar as the global reserve currency and be followed by the collapse of the US, and even the world, economy. Canada must prepare itself for the economic chaos that will follow.
Canadians will be dragged down with the Americans, and others, if we do not escape from their common financial and monetary policies. With our recent access to previously concealed information, the majority of the citizens of other countries, and Canadians, have finally come to realize that we have not only been denied a just share of our economic growth but future generations have been robbed of opportunity.
The corporate and financial sectors have not only convinced Governments to enact taxation, monetary and regulation policies to their favour, but have rigged the story to hide their intent. Their distorting acclaim of GDP for example. GDP is a misleading gauge of our economic well being. Every Canadian should understand what has been done to them and make the effort to understand the simple economic options outlined below.
Canada is rich in natural and human resources and small enough to quickly introduce policy change. Our experience during World War II showed our ability to quickly implement policies to restrain consumption and to divert or ramp up production as needed. The dangers of today far exceed those of a shooting war. But the conquering of the present dangers requires similar solutions. It requires reduction of unnecessary consumption and the diversion of resources to reduce energy production from fossil fuels.
Just as Government created jobs by ordering planes and guns, they should now order solar panels, wind turbines and thermal equipment. They should also create jobs to retrofit old construction to reduce energy demand. All of which are work for production of wealth in lasting productive assets. Such work also provides necessary creation and circulation of money.
WE HAVE BEEN TOLD
We have been told that consumption is good for the economy. That is untrue. Consumption is the destruction of wealth. Consumption requires energy and its environmental degradation. Consumption is only one element for providing our standard of living. It is not good if it requires debt and the stress that debt causes. It is not good for the country if it is of imports in excess of exports. That causes trade deficits and external debt, or the sale of some of our country to foreigners. Economists use the term “utility” to indicate pleasure from consumption with the understanding that utility decreases as volume increasers. We all understand that more of anything provides less pleasure than the first of that pleasure. There is no greater pleasure, and utility, than a good meal when hungry.
Consumption requires production of the goods and services that are consumed. Not consumption of, but production of, goods and services is necessary for supporting the economy. Production requires work by others, plus energy and resources. All of those inputs are destroyed by consumption. Production that is then consumed adds no lasting value. Production, that is not consumed in the same time frame as its production, is the creation of wealth. Wealth can be of individuals, or of Government or of other public elements of society. Individual’s wealth can be in the form of assets or money.
MONEY AND INCOME
Money is the value of a claim to the value of production, to acquire something of equal value, a “we owe you”. It can be exchanged for things we want to consume now, or put aside for future consumption. It is earned for the production of goods and services and spent for the consumption of goods and services. Income is the amount of money value paid, and subsequently spent, for work, energy and resources.
It is untrue that income solely represents the value of personal effort. There would be no income without the addition of energy, resources and infrastructure. Much of any persons’ income is only possible because of the benefits conferred by other present and past Canadians. Without technological advances of the past, infrastructure and the markets provided by the present, an individual or a corporation could not have any income.
Consumption also uses our natural resources. Also renewable resources, of which sustainability is not guaranteed. Agricultural land, forests and fish stocks have suffered from bad practices and environmental degradation. Our mining resources have been depleted and surrendered to foreign ownership with little consideration of future generations of Canadians.
Our labour force has suffered lost jobs and opportunity by automation and financial manipulation that has allocated economic growth to the 1%. The increases in productivity have not been shared by all, but largely allocated to non productive members of our society. The productive workers have been excluded from sharing economic growth.
IRRATIONAL POLICY CHOICES
It is obvious that, since 1970, all Governments of Canada (all political parties) have intentionally transferred all of our economic growth to the richest 10% of our citizens. The members of Parliament either fail to grasp rational economics or are controlled by the financial lobbyists. They have allowed adoption of financial and taxation policies that do not make much economic sense.
It does not seem rational to tax the income that people work for instead of what they consume. It does not seem rational to base policies on encouraging consumption of goods and services instead of its production. It does not seem rational to transfer the power to create money from the Bank of Canada to the corporate banks and pay them interest on it. It does not seem rational to allow them to encourage unnecessary personal consumption and debt. It does not seem rational to impose taxation of the income of Canadians living below the poverty line. It does not seem rational to provide unnecessary taxation exemptions and policies that favour only the rich.
It does not seem rational to encourage financial speculation, gambling and drugs. It does not seem rational not to consider, discuss and debate all these and other rational alternatives. It is particularly irrational that Members of Parliament do not consider, discuss and debate all these and other rational alternatives.
The goal of this series of observations is to apply rational thought to those elements that influence our economic well being, for worse or for better. Most people have been led to believe that economic, monetary, financial, taxation and most Government policies are beyond their ability to understand. That is not so. The basic economic questions are easily understood. For example, should we tax income from work, but not unearned income? Should we tax people for producing goods and services or for consuming goods and services? Should money be created by private banks as debt and spent for consumption, or should it be created by Government for national development?
Our economy is a pretty simple thing to understand. What is hard to understand is why our elected Members of Parliament of the last 50 years have allowed the wages of workers to flatline while the rich get richer. And why they have allowed the public and personal debt to grow to such dangerous levels. The International Bank of Settlements include Canada as one of three countries most facing an immediate economic crisis. The lack of economic literacy by our Members of Parliament, and the political parties, has allowed financial interests to impose their greed upon us. Most of us have been too busy with family and earning a living to realize what was being done to us.
The Constitution Acts of Canada state that “Parliament and the legislatures, together with the government of Canada and the provincial governments, are committed to (a) “promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians;”. The most obvious opportunity is that of equally sharing in the income from use of productive public resources created and/or saved by other Canadians, especially by previous generations. All current production of goods and services (wealth) results from the addition of some human effort applied to those resources. There can be no income for any Canadian without utilization of the public infrastructure, and the natural and human resources of the country.
WHO OWNS CANADA
Canadians should receive some payment for the use of their countries’ resources in the production of goods and services by others. Parliament should provide a basic standard of living for all citizens in exchange for allowing others the utilization of those public resources. In other words, Canadians own the public resources, and should be paid from the Gross National Product for their use in providing income to others.
Canadians must elect Members of Parliament for their policies, instead of their party. To do that, Canadians must understand their economy and those policies.
An economy is simply the interaction of the many factors that result in the production and destruction of wealth as goods and services. Production requires a combination of energy, other natural resources and human effort. Human life also requires energy, whether goods and services are produced or not. The goods and services produced can either be destroyed (consumed), retained for future consumption, or invested in things to benefit society and people for the years to come. If the country consumes (destroys) more than it produces its wealth is reduced. Just as it does for families and individuals.
Money, and monetary equivalent, is simply a claim on goods and services at some future time. The amount of money is determined by the value of the goods and services produced or consumed. Value is a subjective determination quantified in terms of money. It is influenced by evidence of cost of goods and services and by externalities such as supply and demand. Value is created by the production and utility of goods and services. Value is extracted by externalities such as financial, taxation and other non productive segments of the economy.
Money saved represents the value of goods and services produced but not yet consumed. Money can be evidenced in many forms, coins, paper, bank accounts or other legal claims. Whether held as hard assets or financial instruments, savings, if put to use, are of some additional value over time. The saver should be compensated, by a fair rate of interest, for deferring his destruction of wealth (consumption) and those using those savings should pay for their use. For many decades a 3% per annum interest rate on deposits provided the floor value for risk free money.
Economics uses the word utility to describe the enjoyment of consumption.There is the most utility from consuming the basics of life. As consumption rises, the degree of enjoyment from each increment decreases. But to everyone else than the consumer in the society, consumption (the destruction of wealth) provides no utility. In fact it takes away wealth that can be utilized by others or retained for the benefit of the economy. After being told for decades that consumption is good for the economy, we must understand that destruction of wealth benefits only the consumer. As we did in the shooting war, Canadians will forgo consumption for a greater cause. What greater cause than to stem global warming and other pollution.
We have suffered, and allowed, the policies that built our country to be changed without realizing it was to our detriment. The history of the last hundred years clearly shows that the policies of the last 50 years have reversed real prosperity and growth. The first world war saw Canadian productivity expand and the economy grow. We then became caught in the international financialization era of the nineteen twenties, and suffered with others through the result of greed and mismanagement. That was the great depression. The damage to the economy brought about by the greed of the financial sector was corrected by Government action for the next 40 years. The benefits of a mixed government and business economy were evident. Incompetent politicians and parties allowed global financial and corporate powers to once again exercise economic control. Once again the damage done by the financial sector during the last 50 years can only be, and is, the responsibility of Government to correct.
World war two showed that we could build a strong economy with full employment producing goods and services with no immediate consumption benefit to Canadians. Todays’ war is on climate change and destruction of our planet. Such a war has direct benefit to ourselves, as well as the others on the planet. The shooting war production added little to national wealth except productive capacity. The production of war materials provided work and deterred personal consumption. It is production, not consumption, that provide economic strength. Then followed the “Golden Days” of a mixed public and private economy which added national wealth while maintaining full employment. There was little inequality in the rate of growth of incomes and standards of living during those years when Government was in control.
FINANCIAL TAKE OVER
It is obvious that the international financial interests of the wealthy again took control of the economy in the 1970’s. And they were better prepared. They set up the think tanks, the lobbyists, the press barons, the spin masters, and all were engaged to support their financial agenda. I, and many of you, trusted our governments to look after the interests of the people. We were told that the taxation policies, the building and crashing of financial bubbles, and the gambling in the stock market were the way things must work. We were told that they were good for us, our economy and our country. They were not. Many of the dangerous economic indicators present before the Great depression are back again.
For the majority of Canadians, wealth has been shrinking, except for those at the top. The evidence is clear. The 80% of Canadians in the middle have seen no growth of real income or wealth over the last 50 years. Youth have few opportunities for good employment and income. Debt, and its corollary, reduction of wealth and the increase of debt, not production, has sustained the standard of living for many individuals, and for the country. The expectations of 50 years ago, that each generation will live a little better than the last, are gone. People in other countries are rising up and their protests can only increase in intensity. Canadians are noted for their docility. Hopefully we can elect thinking members of Parliament who will make the necessary and rational changes before Canadians must rise up.
Canada’s people will work and produce wealth to the best of their ability and should be assured of income to the extent of their basic needs. Some will be able to produce much more than enough for their needs and some less. They will produce more because their country has developed an infrastructure and resource base, and provides markets. We as a country and society must produce more wealth than we consume, or our personal wealth, and the wealth of our country, will shrink. As we consume, we destroy wealth, and more energy, work and resources must be used to produce more wealth. The banks have been creating money for consumption and the inflation of asset prices. Such money produces no value.
Our nation should only create money as needed for national building of infrastructure and both public and private productive assets. The Bank of Canada should create all money as needed to provide the amount needed to be in circulation between production and consumption. There is no need to use debt to create money. As in the past, money can be created by the Bank of Canada providing money as needed, by investing for public and private lasting assets. The domination of the financial sector in the 1970s resulted in too much money which resulted in inflation. It is always the less well off that suffer the most from inflation. That was the end of Canada’s Golden Years.
If one looks back at the 1970s monetary policies it appears that Canada just followed policies dictated by the Americans. But their policies were to establish markets for their production surplus and then to capture the surpluses of other nations. The elimination of the gold standard of the US dollar, the OPEC oil price control and the dictates of the international financial cartel prevented Canada from following independent policies. In the early 1970’s the Government of the day abandoned our mixed economy. They became controlled by the financial sector and international corporations. They allowed too much money to be created and started the debt spiral. Economists identify the conversion of our economy from a productive economy to a financial economy. An economy that might now be termed a speculative economy.
In 1974, the power to create money was taken from the Bank of Canada and given to the financial sector. Between 1938 and 1974 the Bank of Canada created money to fight the wars and to build our national infrastructure. This provided employment and provided the necessary money in circulation. The great Canadian seaway and highway projects led the growth of national wealth.
The practice of creating money through debt, since 1974, adds debt charge payment to the tax load borne by Canadians. The ability of the banks to create money, by making loans to earn them profits, led to the increase of private debt, and misery for many people. The “bubble” formations and “bursts” have been largely caused by private sector credit fluctuations. The financial sector’s grab for profits, rather than the wellbeing of people and the economy, has resulted in overburdening people with debt.
CONSUMPTION OF IMPORTS
There are many aspects of consumption to think about and understand. We must have the necessities of life. Any other consumption is discretionary, not necessary. Goods and services are consumed, they are used up, they disappear, they are no longer available to anyone else. Such consumption expenditure gives utility to some Canadians and work for other Canadians, if they are not imported. If the goods and services consumed are produced by Canadians in Canada, the economy is benefited by their production, not by their consumption. But the economy would have benefited even more if the labour, energy and resources used in their production had created something of lasting value to all Canadians, such as infrastructure or productive capacity. The money paid for their production in Canada would have circulated to provide work for more Canadians. Taxes would have been collected each time the money changed hands.
If the goods and services consumed were not produced in Canada, as imports or spent abroad, there would be no circulation of money in the Canadian economy, and no taxes collected. There would be consumption of wealth without the production of wealth. We have a trade deficit with every other country with which we trade. We have been paying for those foreign goods by selling our assets and with it surrendering our heritage. Our housing and manufacturing sectors should be sustained by the production and use of Canadian money.
Canada and most other countries were built by having tariffs to encourage production and make work for citizens. Canada was a world leaders in the production of farm machinery and other goods. But no more. Since the cost of production in Canada had to include the cost of our Government and social programs the globalist corporations valued profits more than their country. Canadians still had to pay those costs of Government and social programs as an increase of the cost of other things. A vicious circle that made the remaining Canadian production less competitive both at home and as exports. The result has been that Canada has a trade deficit with every country with which we tarde. That deficit is paid by stripping the natural resources that should be shared with future generations or selling ever larger pieces of our economy. What has been the motivation of our Members of Parliament and political parties to allow this?
Income is commonly thought of as providing the sole ability to consume by a person or entity, The majority of Canadians have an income, or ability to consume, equal to their wages. Income can be added to by cashing in of savings, or by borrowing, or by selling something, or from business profits, or by investment earnings, or by receiving a gift, or by gambling. Wealth is income that is not consumed. Savings increases wealth. Consumption decreases wealth. Wealth can be in money or a money value equivalent, either way, it can be exchanged for consumption.
Earned income is from work to produce goods and services. Rentier Income is used in economics to describe that income received without working for it. A significant shortcoming in our economy, particularly taxation, is not to differentiate between rentier and work income. Earned income adds value to the economy. Rentier income produces nothing new but only the practice of gaining profit by monopolizing access to property. The monopolists, the patent holders, the drug companies, the speculators in the stock market, and those with many rights given by government, collect income without adding any production to the economy. The financial industry, produces no goods and services, nothing that benefits most Canadians. Their speculation (gambling) has resulted in distorting economic values, creating economic volatility, growing and bursting bubbles, all to the detriment of Canada and Canadians.
It is the concept of income as a tax base that has caused most of the tax difficulty for Canadians. The complications of defining income, taxable income, annual income, net income, gross income and on and on, is beyond the grasp of most Canadians. Most of the effort required for determining tax liability would be eliminated if income was simply “money received” in the year, less money saved.
How many of those with large incomes say “I earned” rather than “I was paid ”? What could they have been paid without their country having provided, the market, the infrastructure, the education, the progress of the generations before, research and development, the employees, the economy, the resources, the chance to be lucky and more. All of those benefits provided by the country should be recognized as providing a good portion of income. The current cost of providing government services, and for the use of national wealth, should be fully recovered from earnings in the year they were consumed. No current account deficit should be passed on to the future. The infrastructure and resources, natural and human, should provide a rate of return to all Canadians. They are after all equal owners and beneficiaries of the nation.
WEALTH AND A NATIONAL DIVIDEND
Both public and private investment and savings represent the choice between consumption and wealth creation. Wealth is just accumulated income and deferred “consumption-ability”. Income might be from the wealth of previous generations or from current earnings. Wealth might be money or hard assets that can be sold or converted into money. It can be gained or lost. It can be private wealth or public wealth. The public wealth may be circulating, like money and securities, or natural resources, roads, parks and infrastructure that provides public services. Canada is rich with public and private wealth.
Because we are Canadians, who presumably are equal citizens and have equal entitlement to the public wealth, we should receive and share a return on the income created by that wealth. That fair return as a dividend could meet the cost of the basic living needs of all Canadians. I national dividend would not be social assistance, it would be fair payment of value provided. It seems irrational to think of social assistance as a gift, as giving something for nothing. Canadians may be indigenous, conquerors, settlers, born or naturalized, but at any time, we surely should share equally in the fruit of our national production.
A national dividend is not the only use of the revenues from income created by utilizing national wealth. Just as with a business, the value producing wealth must be maintained and expanded. Investment should be from Canadian production, savings and investment. Foreign investment for new housing construction and productive assets provides work in the short term, but takes money out of the economy for years, if not forever. Both public and private investment assures the circulation of money in the Canadian economy.
Debt is the opposite of wealth but does not decrease national wealth if owed to Canadians. Debt can be incurred to pay for current consumption or be invested to provide consumption in the future. Household, and other, debt incurred for current consumption reduces the opportunity for future consumption. Excessive household debt causes many kinds of social problems and unhappiness. Much excessive personal debt is caused by sales and financial practices imposed on those less sophisticated consumers. Advertising of both goods and the availability of credit preys on the weaknesses of consumers. It is the greed for profits by the financial interests that urge purchases and debt. Banks and credit agencies make additional loans beyond the debtors ability to repay. Government has been unsuccessfully urged to stop later loans from ranking equally with previous loans in order to reduce unmanageable repayment.
Taxpayers must pay for debt charges on debt that Governments incur. Debt costing billions of dollars of interest added to taxes paid by the people of Canada. Money that could be created by the Bank of Canada instead of by private banks, with the interest earned reducing taxes.
Governments have been borrowing money to pay current account deficits as well as to pay for investing in infrastructure and productive wealth. By borrowing to pay for current Government expenditures in excess of Government revenue, the wealth of the country is being reduced. Money should be created only to the extent that Government wealth is created. Government should always encourage savings by borrowing from Canadians and paying individual Canadians at least the same rate of interest as being paid on other debt.
If Canada can feed itself and save for investment, there should be little need to seek foreign investment. All foreign investment adds little to the wealth of the country, the value of their investment is not wealth of Canada, it is offset by a liability to the investors. Investors expect to recover their investment as well as interest, dividends and profits over many years. Foreign investment in Canada has been necessary to replace the trade deficit and the negative balance of foreign payments. A lot of foreign investment has been in the Canadian real estate sector. Canadians invest, without value creation, in securities and asset bubbles instead of in needed investment. Investment in new multi family structures have created short term construction jobs. The same job creation could be done with Canadian investment, both public and private. Money that has been created by the banks has gone into inflating financial instruments, commodities, share buybacks and for consumer spending.
The Bank of Canada should have created the money for investment instead. Money created by the Bank of Canada to build housing or productive businesses provides the same construction jobs as that paid for by foreign investment. The difference is that the revenues from those investments stays in Canada to be used for more investment and improve the standard of living for everyone. The private bank creation of money has just inflated the financial bubbles and debt, giving no long term economic benefit. The more we sell off Canadian ownership, the weaker our economy.
Global and foreign corporations act only in the interests of their shareholders, with no concern for the long term interests of Canada. Foreign investment should only be accepted to acquire technology and new manufacturing capacity and only with provision for Canadian equity participation. China’s growth has been possible by that foreign investment policy together with their massive investment in infrastructure, housing and industry.
THE BANK OF CANADA
The Golden years of Canada started at the end of the second world war. There was lots of work and growing incomes and standard of living. The financial sector had been discredited after causing the great depression. Government was firmly in control. We had a mixed economy. Business flourished and expanded while the government built the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Trans Canada Highway, lots of schools and hospitals and introduced many new social programs. The Bank of Canada provided the money necessary to run our country. Any interest charged by the Bank of Canada was returned to government to reduce the tax on the income of workers.
Then in the 1970s the financial interests started their think tanks and neo-liberal economists selling a bill of goods to the politicians. The Government of Canada began participation in the Bank for International Settlements and other globalist organization. Apparently decisions were then made in the interests of the international community and global corporations. The worst thing, that they convinced Canada to do, was to move the creation of money, from the Bank of Canada, to the financial sector.
Since then no political party, or Members of Parliament, have stopped or even questioned the practice. I can only imagine two reasons. Either they do not understand, or they are controlled by the rich financiers. Instead of the Government creating the money needed in our economy, they allow the banks to create it and then borrow it back and pay interest on it. This needlessly gives the interest on the money to a few of the most well off Canadians, or foreigners, instead of spending it to help all Canadians through reduced taxes.
Not only has no political party, and our Members of Parliament, stopped or questioned the failure of the Bank of Canada to fulfill its mandate, but they have used their influence to prevent investigation and debate. It is particularly disturbing that the press and media have avoided reporting on the matter. Very little has been heard of the court case instigated by Comer , the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform, in 2011 and finally refused hearing before the Supreme Court in 2017. It is hard to believe that a matter so important to the people of Canada should be kept in the dark.
GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE AND TAXES
Government pays out money to provide services to its citizens. It also makes investments which will provide government services in the future. Like individuals, businesses and others with cash flows, government keeps money in deposit accounts. There is a movement in the USA, advocating the creation of government owned banks to transfer the interest earnings on deposits to the government instead of to the private banks. Many such banks have been, and are being, established in the USA. Most European countries encourage small public and local banks. Canadian governments could be using our own Bank of Canada to earn the profits now granted to the private Canadian banks and foreign investors. There is a movement in Canada for the Post Office to provide banking services to rural and poorly served Canadians.
It would seem logical that people, and Government, pay for what they consume in the year they consume it. People and government have built up a massive debt, that may have added to GDP, but which will diminish GDP in the future. That debt will have to be repaid, with interest, thereby reducing the ability to consume. A lack of consumption reduces production and the work available for others to earn their living, and consume.
The growth of debt for consumption is not the only problem. When the asset price of financial instruments, commodities and housing create bubbles, they must eventually crash. The recession of 2008 will soon be followed by another. Because the Canadian debt and bubble are bigger, the next recession will be worse than the last. Until the banks and financial interests are controlled, the growth and burst cycles will continue. The millennials, their children and grandchildren, will be poorer for the financial and consumption excesses of those before them.
Current government reporting does not indicate what portion of their expenditures is for the benefit of current taxpayers, and what is investment for the future. If government expenditure is for investment for the future, it should not be paid for by current taxpayers. That expenditure, and only that expenditure, should be paid for by money created by government debt or money creation. That money should be borrowed from the savings of Canadians or, to the extent additional money is needed in the economy, created by the Bank of Canada. With Canadian savings deposits earning less that the Government borrowing rate, the interest paid on savings would help Canadians and provide taxable income.
The expenditure by government for the benefit of current taxpayers should be collected from current taxpayers. Any amount of deficit or surplus, the difference between the amount expended in a year and the tax collected in a year, should be carried forward only to the next year.
The total amount to be collected from taxpayers can be taxed from many sources and methods. The total gross amount of tax revenue required is determined by vote of the elected representatives. That much must be raised for the government by taxes. That is the total amount of tax required from taxpayers. The amount collected from any one tax base would reduce the tax collected from another. The tax bases, and the rate of tax calculated on that base, should reflect some benefit, or benefits, in addition to the tax collected. For example, encourage production in Canada, to discourage creating trade deficits, to encourage public health, to encourage small business growth, and so on.
Once the budget estimates and the gross amount that must be collected is determined, the sources of tax can be determined. It is better to tax things that are bad, and limit taxing what is good. Working is good. Things injurious to health is bad. Things that degrade the environment are bad. Liquor, cigarettes and recreational drugs are bad. Gambling and speculation are bad. Consumption of goods and services are good for the consumer, but of no good to the rest of society. The amount raised from each tax base can be determined by dictates of rationality and justice.
PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION
Old quotation: “The art of taxation is similar to plucking a goose so as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of squawking”.
There is too much squawking about paying taxes. Much of it is about the total of government expenditure, not taxes. The cost of government for the services we need are a part of the goods and services consumed by each Canadian. Somehow Canadians must pay for all of them. Most of the squawking is caused by the complication of calculating the amount of income tax owed by each Canadian. In addition, some squawking is about the distribution of the taxation burden in relation to the perceived value of the benefits of being Canadian.
There are basic concepts of our society from which design of taxation should proceed. One basic is that all Canadians are equal owners of the “commons”, the wealth of the country. Canada is a rich country, both in natural resources and national wealth. Each Canadian should share equally in those natural resources and the national wealth that has been added by those of the past.
The value for the use of those resources should be shared equally by all Canadians. They are not. Much income of some Canadians is possible only because of their access to those commons. The research and development paid by taxpayers is a resource for production, a common of all Canadians. The highways and all other commons are a resource for production. Higher income results, in part, from access to the commons and adds to the value of the human effort.
The fairness between taxpayers is difficult to determine because it depends on all of the factors created by the society as a whole. An individual’s Income depends on the extent to which it results from the country’s wealth as well one’s work. Progressive rates of taxation attempt to recognize this. The reduction of the top rate of Income Tax, from 91% to 50% has, in part, resulted in most of economic growth passing to those with the highest incomes and wealth. The most progressive and productive years in Canada have been during the years of those progressive high rates. Fairness has suffered as present taxation has abetted the allocation of income and wealth to the few.
Another important consideration in choosing tax bases is the cost of collection. The Fraser Institute estimates that the average cost to collect taxes for each taxpayer is over $700. Nearly 15% of the revenue collected. The growth of the Income Tax act and its regulations has grown from an eleven page act to thousands of pages of act and regulations today. The cost of administration and the conflicts between taxpayer and tax collector have increased over time.
Another basic mistake is to base taxation on income, which is on work and production. Rather than taxing income, what one produces, the base should be consumption, which is the destruction of production. Taxation is accepted as a means to control or alter action. There is evidence that taxation of income discourages work. Work is beneficial to society, and the economy, as well as people. Taxation should be on consumption which is not beneficial to society.
Another basic problem in taxation of income is the definition of income. The great majority of people define income as the amount of cash or money received. The amount that they have to spend. The most striking thing is that the amount of money received is also the easiest number to determine, and the fairest one to tax. It is an amount that does not depend on source, reason, time, or criteria other than it can be spent. Every money transaction is, by law, recorded and readily available without adjustment.
If individuals are to be encouraged to reduce consumption (the destruction of the labour, resources and energy), and increase savings and investment (national wealth) the tax base would be gross income (cash flow) less savings. If individuals are to be encouraged to increase their work and production (thus wealth), that element of income would be excluded from taxation. Any tax to replace lost tax on any one base can be levied on another base. Tax on work and production can be replaced by a transaction tax on securities trades, which add nothing to production or wealth.
The various programs developed to encourage savings indicate that the government of Canada believes that savings by individual Canadians is good. One good reason for savings is never mentioned, that of increasing the countries’ wealth instead of consuming wealth. There are many government taxation policies that encourage savings. Their purpose, or purposes, are not clear. What is clear is that all the policies provide more benefit for those who need not be encouraged to save. The well off save anyway, without the incentives. Those that most need to be encouraged are discouraged by the red tape and administration costs of the various savings programs. There are other policies, or lack of policies, that discourage savings.
The rate of personal debt has increased and the rate of personal savings has decreased. It is impossible to understand the rationality of making savings deductible from taxable income. The rich, who do not need encouraging, save paying tax of a high rate. Those at lower, on no tax rate, those who need savings more, save less. The best way to encourage savings is to assure a base rate of return. Even in the poorest of times people were paid 3% per annum on deposits. Canada should set a floor return on deposits of at least this rate. The incentives for savings should be a high rate of interest on deposits. A 10% rate per annum on the first $20,000. would encourage savings to meet needs that might otherwise require social assistance.
A wit has said that securities trading is “Gambling without the charm of a casino.” On a more serious note, the founder of the Vanguard Investment Group stated: “So the way I calculate it, 99% of what we do in this industry is people trading with one another, with a gain only to the middleman. It’s a waste of resources.”
If ever we ordinary people were duped by the financial elite it is by their representation of the importance of buying and selling financial instruments, the stock market. As indicated in the quotation above, 99% of it is a waste of resources. Only when an investment provides the capital to start or grow a business or production facilities is there a benefit to the economy, the country or its people. The resale of securities causes harm to the economy, the country and its people to the extent that it diverts the money otherwise available for beneficial productive investment.
The argument that liquidity in the marketplace justifies trading practices is fallacious. Investment is useful for the production of goods and services which, as profits are earned, provides return on the investment. Liquidity, provides no benefit to anyone but the few who from time to time cash in an investment, or a gamble. The need for liquidity is not a normal function of investing, but of speculation. With the advent of many newer forms of financial instruments and new trading technologies, securities trading has moved closer to gambling. Especially when there is an absence of tangible assets backing up the instrument.
It is worth comparing the similarity, and a major difference, between speculating by purchasing a lottery ticket and purchasing a financial security. The major difference is that a lottery ticket always has tangible assets backing the purchase, there is cash there to pay out. Securities trading of the many derivatives have no underlying tangible asset set aside. The return depends on the credit of the issuer of the instrument. It was, in large part, derivative losses that triggered the recession of 2008.
The second major difference is that about 47% of the money paid for a lottery ticket is paid to government. 5% to 6% pays for administration and the other 47% to the speculator. Lotteries are the only speculation readily available to low income Canadians. It is only a small proportion of people who speculate in the securities market, with little or no tax on their speculation.
It would seem rational to apply a tax on securities speculation and eliminate or reduce the tax on work. Work is the basis to our whole economy. It produces goods and services and circulates the money earned throughout the economy. Of the money paid for speculation in the securities market, 99% is a waste of resources. The money paid to workers is a necessity for their standard of living. The money paid to the more well off speculators is usually not so necessary to put food on the table. Of course, some of that money from speculation might be donated to political parties, just in case a tax on it might be under consideration.
Securities gambling, or speculation, with the holding times of investments reduced from years to minutes has resulted in business management and planning becoming short term as well. Instead of production of goods and services financial manipulation has resulted in stock bubbles and loss of real value. The recent practice of buying back stock has replaced investment in new facilities, research and loss of productive capacity.
SAVINGS AND DEBT
Perhaps the greatest betrayal of people has been by our banks, whose betrayal has been abetted by government. Our banks once were held in great respect by people. Their branches were a sign of financial stability in every town and village. The staff and managers were our friends and neighbors.They tried to attract as many people, even children, to carry a deposit account for their savings. Then they became impersonal purveyors of debt. Instead of encouraging personal financial responsibility they advertised credit cards and other “services”. Even resorted to questionable promotional practices to increase their profits. Ever higher bottom lines and obscene pay for their officers trumped public service. They no longer provided credit and financing based on the ability to repay. They reverted to an interest charge large enough that would give them profit, even if their client suffered.
Small business has ceased to be important to the banks. Since they have reduced, or eliminated branch autonomy, the character of the relationship between local managers and local customers has changed. Highly educated, often without experience, distant managers are expected to evaluate entrepreneurs. Now small business is just another commodity, dealing with computers instead of people.
It is not surprising that Canada has become one of the world’s least saving countries. In 2016 there were only four OECD countries with lower savings rates than Canada. The rate shrank from 20% in 1982 to .8% in 2018. Our banks encourage debt, not savings. There is little left over from flatlined or shrinking incomes to pay on debt, let alone save. The only government policies to encourage savings mostly benefit the rich. There is little facility for the simple savings of most Canadians. The ones that need to save the most are not offered a reasonable interest rate.
A 3% interest rate on savings accounts has historically been a minimum basic payment for the use of money. Governments are borrowing at a rate in excess of 3% from the financial sector of the economy. They could borrow from Canadian individuals at 3%, a saving on the rates they are paying. Such would encourage savings by those who need savings the most, to meet sudden needs. Over 30% of Canadians do not even have as much as one payday’s income set aside. With the banks turning branches into sales offices, and concentrating on creating debt, it is time to restore the Post Office Savings Bank. Its 100 year experience was another victim of financilation in 1968.
In addition to the low savings rates, personal debt in Canada exceeds the total of annual personal income. The information provided by government and the media rarely is the complete story. The statistics provided are usually in the average, which does not indicate the debt level of many Canadians. The average ratio of debt to annual income, 176%. The average ratio of household debt to GDP is 101% on top of that, government debt is 94%. Look beyond the averages and remove those without debt to see just how badly off are some Canadians. Individual Canadians are responsible to repay public and private debt of nearly twice our annual Gross Domestic Product, and three times annual incomes. This is what will prevent recovering our economy without serious recession. If there is one thing that indicates the inadequacy of our governments, and elected Members of Parliament, is their apparent failure to understand the result of debt creation.
We used to have savings and loan and mortgage companies that borrowed the money from someone and loaned it out again to someone else. Banks do not simply loan out money that people have deposited with them, they create the money by making an entry in a computer. Then they sell those loans to some large or foreign investor. No longer is the debtor dealing with one on one.
Other than government, only banks can create money. It is a monopoly given to them by government as a way for them to earn profits. They make a loan and the money supply is increased, and then can be spent, be consumed. No matter if it is good for the country or not.
Much of the growth in Gross National Product of the recent past has been from money created by debt. They have almost killed that fatted calf. We have reached the limit, or what should be the limit, of private debt. After we reached a limit for consumer debt, the predators turned to students. Now they have few other lives to ruin. So what happens to the economy without the money created by debt ? It shrinks. As debt is repaid it also takes money that would otherwise be spent to circulate money and grow the GDP. Unless government increases its debt, or creates more money for investment itself, there is deflation and recession. Government could print money for consumption and create inflation. Or government could create money only for investment, only for the creation of wealth. Whatever way, the people pay in the end.
The forward of this book has a quotation with a final sentence that reads “Our history has been one of trust in authority, and that authority has betrayed us”. No sector of our society has been betrayed to the same extent as workers. The opportunities and remuneration of workers has flatlined or shrunk, while incomes received without work have increased. The shrinking incomes of most Canadians, together with the predatory efforts by the banks to increase their profits, has led to high levels of household debt. The high level of debt, and any payments thereon, will reduce the volume of money for spending, while prices are rising, decreasing the standard of living for many.
With artificial intelligence, robotics, information technology and machines of all kind, the need for workers decreases and changes. Not enough has been done to meet these changes. Governments must adopt policies that encourage work and, at the same time, assure an ability of all Canadians to have enough money for a decent standard of living. The amount of work must be shared through reduced work hours or job creation. The past provides examples of government policies that increased work and production. In WWII, and post WWII, government purchase orders and projects, financed by the Bank of Canada, did that.
Incomes of most high executives are over 200 times that of the average Canadian worker. Some earn over 1000 times as much. Compared to a ratio of 20 times only 50 years ago, the extent of the betrayal is evident. But that is not all the story of these earnings differences. The elimination, or reduction of wages, through automation and globalization, has decreased available jobs for lesser skilled workers. Those entering, or reentering, the workforce are those most denied opportunities.
Government trade and corporate policies, or failure to make policies, has allowed corporate decisions contrary to our economic welfare. Their transfer of production and sourcing to other countries has eliminated, or reduced, Canadian production, and employment. The sale of businesses to foreign interests has often resulted to their closing, or transformation to sales agencies for foreign produced goods.
Government does not seem to realize that imports do not bear the same taxation costs as production in Canada. That makes Canadian goods and services less competitive both in Canada and in export markets. Every hour of labour put into Canadian products and services includes the taxes paid by the workers and by the business. A Canadian workers’ wages are spent to provide work and income for other workers, or to buy the products produced by them. The total taxes paid in Canada equals about 40% of our Gross Domestic Product. Imports do not bear the costs of our health, education, government and other services. Unlike purchase of imports, the money spent for Canadian products turns over several times in our economy, again with tax collected each time. Since production in Canada contains the taxes, replacement of imports with Canadian production would allow tax rates to decrease or government services to increase.
Many economic references have been made to research and theory showing reductions in work effort because of the tax levied on employment. There are many other ways to tax that would have no such effect. A tax on speculation of all kinds would help the elimination of taxes on work and production. It would also discourage securities speculation that adds no products or services to the economy and which diverts savings and investment from productive enterprises.
THE POOR OR ALMOST POOR
Presumably every Canadian has equal shares and rights to the natural, human and all other resources of their country. Should not each Canadian receive an equal share of the value of the use of those resources? We do have welfare systems which might satisfy the compassions of the most tight fisted people. Many justify allowing poverty by saying that those in need should go to work. Inadequate basics of food, shelter and transportation reduce the ability to work. The welfare system provides little incentive or ability to work or to get out of the poverty trap. The economic policies of our financial economy have little concern for the welfare and dignity of such people.
The growth of street people and food banks have drawn attention to the concept of the need for a basic income. The increased productivity, and loss of jobs, brought about by technology is also dictating such a solution. It is not a new idea. Just a name and view charge. The old concept was more limited and was called Social Credit. To repeat: Presumably every Canadian has equal share and rights to the natural, human and all other resources of their country. Should not each Canadian receive an equal share of the value of the use of those resources? If a basic income amount was paid to every Canadian, with fair rates of personal tax and savings from the reduction of welfare administration costs, there would be little effect on the economy.
Some Canadians must start paying income tax if they have an income of over $8,481.00. Statistics Canada has determined the LIM (Low Income Measure) as $22,138.00. It is hard to accept that the poor should be taxed while being deprived a minimum standard of living. Eliminating the tax on the poor is not enough. It should also be eliminated from all workers. Better to tax consumption, not production.
PROGRESSIVE PERSONAL TAX RATES
Canada has long divided taxable income into brackets and applied rates that progressively increase as the level of taxable income increases. This concept of higher tax rates to match higher consumption has been accepted by most progressive taxpayers the world over. Perhaps the most obvious evidence that our authority, our governments and Members of Parliament, has betrayed us is their corruption of this concept. The changes, made since the dominance by the financial economy 50 years ago, have reduced the tax on rich by 38% while increasing the tax load on the rest by 18%.
In the 1960’s there were 24 brackets with a top tax rate of 91% on the highest bracket of income. In 2018 there are 5 brackets with the highest rate as 50%. Canadian taxpayers were told that the number of brackets were reduced to make filing of the return easier. This is during a time with computers are available to do the calculations. No calculation was, or is, required for most taxpayers. There was, and is, a table provided, showing the tax due for each thousand of taxable income. The real reason for reducing the number of brackets and top rates was to save taxes for those with high incomes.There is absolutely no plausible reason why there should not be 99 brackets. Such would provide smaller differences of tax between brackets and thereby smaller changes from one bracket to the next.
The tax rates have also been tailored to provide more benefit to those with higher income. Most times the claim has been made that taxes are being reduced but it has been for the higher incomes only. Comparing the taxes at current rates with that of the “Golden Years” of Canada reveals increases, at taxable incomes of $50,000. by 28%; of $100,000. by 37%; of $400,000 by 10% but decreasing the tax on $3,000,000. by 32%. Is it any wonder the middle class is shrinking and the wealthy are getting richer?
But that is not all of the tax savings provided for the rich. Half of capital gains is not even included in income. Plus great deductions are given for certain investments. Even the savings plans give greater benefits to the rich than those less well off. The savings plans of the rich provide a bigger government contribution, equal to their higher tax bracket. It seems that the senior politicians are all members of the rich class and know how to help themselves.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
GDP is the biggest lie designed to hide the theft of the economy by the rich elite. Many economists question the usefulness of basing national progress, and how well we should feel about our country, on the numbers of Gross Domestic Product. GDP has lost its credibility as a gauge of the economy. An article in the World Economic Forum web site set out many things wrong with it. It points out that it was developed back in a manufacturing economy, and a depression at that. It is too simple and limited in the data points considered.
GDP includes the amount spent for both consumption and investment by both households and Government. That is the spent that leaves nothing to show for it. Is also includes the total spent which leads to the consumption of energy and the corresponding environmental and climate damage. The amount of investment adds to the increase in personal and public wealth. Hopefully, much of that investment is green, resulting in more energy efficient production and more green production of energy.
That article also expresses what to me is it’s greatest fault. It provides no measure of wealth, or changes in wealth. GDP may signify growth when, in fact, wealth has decreased. GDP growth relates growth of consumption, which is the destruction of goods and services. It fails to identify the conversion of production into wealth, goods and services not consumed.
In its use, GDP portrays aggregates and averages. The rebuilding costs after a disaster adds to GDP growth but no recognition of the losses suffered. The average per capita growth may go up, but that increase may have all been allocated to the 1% of the population. With any growth of GDP there has been energy consumed but no offsetting recognition of environmental damage and depletion of resources.
While over half of Canadians recently poled feel that Canada is in a recession, the politicians and media claim it is not. For the owners of the media and the politicians and their friends, they may be far from a recession. They have no need not to believe the GDP. Any growth in the economy goes right to them. The other 90% or so of Canadians experience something different, a shrinking of their well being.
There are many other ways to evaluate the wellbeing of a country than GDP. Such analyses of wellbeing at World Happiness Report combine a number of factors, including GDP. Weight is also given to social support, health and life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity and corruption.
What I would like to know is the difference between how much we produce in the country and how much we consume. How much wealth we create and by how much we reduce wealth. If we are not producing more than we consume, we are dissipating our wealth.
We are not told our trade and currency balances so we would know the extent of our foreign debt, or how much of our country we have sold to pay the consumption bills. The majority of voters can not bother top do the research to see that we have trade deficits with every country with which we trade. Nor is the extent to which foreigners own or control the wealth of our country made public. We, with the help of GDP and our lack of information, are being treated like mushrooms. “Kept in the dark and fed manure.”
OUR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Our interplay with other countries have severely jeopardized our national independence. Our government’s mandate is to govern in the interests of the people they represent. Other than in times of their distress, the interests and actions of other countries should not be our concern. Our courts and much legislation is increasingly not assuring control of national interests. The many regional trade agreements restrict our ability to maximize our strengths above the common denominator of those participating. Only if we, and other countries, are able to maximize our productive output, can we have surplus goods and services to meet our needs and provide assistance to those in need in other countries.
Subordination of our country’s interests to those of global corporations has resulted from our, so called, free trade agreements. Trade should stem from each countries’ ability to produce goods that is surplus to their own needs. Those surpluses of production can be sold to enable an equal value of imports or can be the base for foreign charity. That is why production, not consumption, should be the primary goal.
Canada should maintain participation in discussions of common interest with all countries. We should not participate in the World bank or other international financial or aid institutions. The inappropriateness of many projects promoted and financed over the years are legion. As a one time VP of international development, I sought and prepared proposals to such bodies for execution of projects. Such organizations are bureaucracies without controls by taxpayers. Much better that Canada avoid the expense of such bureaucracies and provide aid directly or through NGOs (Non government organizations).
The many skills and organizational ability of the military forces of Canada should be primarily utilized to protect our homeland from foreign invasions. The potential perpetrators and the frequency of such acts can be best anticipated by continuing cooperation with other countries. Canada is too small and isolated to have much military effect internationally. Those same skills and organization can also be applied to help in emergencies at home and abroad. Its stature in the past has been mostly recognized by its aid to small countries. This should be continued and enhanced by providing goods and services that we we are able to produce in excess of our own needs, not by participating in warfare.
ADVERTISING AND PACKAGING
Often taxpayers complain that taxation takes their money without their permission and without direct benefit to them. What advertising costs each Canadian is substantial and for which we have no choice. Everything we buy includes the cost of advertising and packaging. Do we get anything of value in return for what that costs us? A lot of people do not want and are offended by all the advertising imposed upon them every day. What do people get for the cost of advertising added to the things they buy? A lot of people get stress and misery. They are sold a credit card and get debt and stress. They buy things on the credit card, that they might not need, and feel sorry later. Most advertising does not provide useful product information.
I expect that most purchasers would prefer reduced prices rather than advertising. A lot of advertising is by the global corporations for goods manufactured in some other country. Those imported goods generate no work for Canadians, therefore they do not include the same amount of taxes that must be included in the cost of what is produced in Canada.
There are many products, such as sugared beverages, where the big corporations have been allowed to advertise their products, although they have been proven to be injurious to people, especially children. The deduction of such advertising from taxable income should be disallowed as well as bear an excise tax. It is stupid to claim that such action would be a denial of some corporate freedom. It would instead be action to assure the citizens freedom from personal injury.
Most packaging costs are mostly to catch the eye of the shopper and is of no value to the buyer. It is not just the added cost of the advertising/packaging that is involuntarily paid, there is the added cost of the garbage and pollution created. No packaging or reusable packaging should be encouraged. At one time much of household supplies were in bulk. Sale in bulk might require more labour. Is that so bad?
To the extent that advertising increases consumption (destruction of wealth) it is detrimental to our economy. There should be less tax on wages and an excise tax on advertising and packaging to replace it.
Advertising may a good thing, and should be encouraged, even paid by the taxpayer, if it provides a benefit to individuals and the society and the economy. Advertising to provide helpful guidance to those least able to protect themselves from the greed and excesses of the corporate world should be supported.
HOUSE OF COMMONS
In Canada, an election is not to elect a Prime Minister, it is to elect an individual. The inclusion of political parties in the procedure has resulted in the election of members who do not represent the interests of their constituents, but of the party leader and committees of special interest supporters. This results in a Government supporting the wishes of the financiers and corporations through their lobbying and money. The political parties, over the last 50 years, have passed legislation and decreased regulation to the extent that the incomes of a great majority of Canadians have not grown while the rich get richer and increase their power over the political parties. Corporations have been allowed to pollute, deplete resources and destroy the economy at a cost of productive capacity. The financial sector has been allowed to destroy local financial services, convert the stock market from investing to gambling, burden people with overwhelming debt and create economic bubbles and crises, all to the misfortune of most Canadians.
As the current Prime Minister said “Justin Trudeau says he would loosen the tight grip the Prime Minister’s Office has come to have on government, reversing a trend he admits began with his father, the former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau”. Instead he tightened the PMO control. Current circumstances confirm that control has increased, The way that Parliamentary Democracy should work is that once the Members of Parliament convene they should choose one of their members to be Prime Minister and to select members of Cabinet. The duty of Cabinet Ministers is to interface between the administrators and the House. It is only by members of the House of Commons expending their duty to their electors that the administration can be held to account. The incompetence ,failure to fulfill their obligations or failure to be informed can relinquish democracy to the control of others. Political parties must be reduced to their function of a conspiracy of special interests.
The historian and economist, Michael Hudson, recounts the history of debt over the centuries. All of the past empires had recognized that debt restricted economic stability and growth. When a new ruler took power the common practice was to cancel and eliminate the debt. It enabled citizens to become more productive and the economy stronger. It is obvious that debt, particularly excessive debt, takes away the ability to both consume and produce to normal levels. When the level of debt is too high, the needed amount of credit available in the system restricts normal cash circulation. As debt is repaid the amount of money is removed from circulation reducing the Gross Domestic Product.
Professor Steve Keen proposes a Debt Jubilee for those societies with debt levels that depress the economy. The main cause of recessions, like 2008, has been excessive personal debt. His solution is for Government to create and provide money to all citizens. Sort of like Quantitative Easing that was welfare to support the banks and major corporations, but instead for the people. To assure fairness to all citizens, but eliminate dangers of inflation, those without debt would be required to invest in the equity of productive corporations to reduce their debt or to expand productive capacity. Beside the benefits to the overall economy, individual Canadians would be relieved of the stress and deprivation of debt burdens over their capacity, usually caused by predatory financial and corporate practices.