We have allowed the level of taxation in this country to get completely out of control. Income and payroll taxes now expropriate 20% to 25% of the average worker's earnings. The HST grabs another 13%. Consumption taxes embedded into the prices of fuel, alcohol, tobacco, etc. and property taxes, licenses and fees bring the total government take to between 40% and 50% of our income... and still they run a deficit and want more.
Apparently our government believes that they have a legitimate right to tax away as much of our money as they like without our explicit consent. Not only are they expropriating a constantly growing portion our incomes, but they are now using it in extremely secretive ways to dismantle our national sovereignty, to serve and protect corporate interests, and to "bail out" the banks and the financial speculators when their greed gets them into trouble. Our current leaders are privatizing democracy itself and intruding deeper and deeper into the private lives, rights and freedoms of individual citizens.
A Voluntary Financial Voting System
The Financial Party would implement a financial voting system that would give taxpayers the ultimate authority over the government. Under our current political party system democracy is merely an illusion. With a multi-party system the winning party can form the government with as little as one-third of the ballots cast. If eligible voters who are too disillusioned with politics to even bother voting are factored in, the winning political party might only represent one-in-four Canadians. When more people vote against the winning party than for it, what kind of democracy are we really getting? When more votes are ignored than the ones that count is our democracy truly representative?
The Financial Party would replace the current tax system with a voluntary financial voting system that would provide direct democracy to all Canadian voters. Instead of filing income tax returns, Canadians would receive a detailed summary of all of the government's major expenditures from the previous year. Each category would list the cost per taxpayer of providing the goods and services to Canadians. Like ordering from a restaurant menu, voters would then select only the programs that they would like to see continued and were willing to pay for with their own tax dollars. New program ideas could be suggested by voters and added to the menu items each year for voter approval. Only the options that enough taxpayers select (in sufficient numbers to cover program costs) would be carried out by the government and the budgets for all government activities would be set by the financial voting of the people. When the people control the budget, there will be no 1,000 page omnibus bills to conceal the true loyalties and activities of the government. Finally, the power and reach of the government will be restrained by the will of the people.
With such a system individuals have complete freedom of choice over how much they pay in taxes and every citizen's vote will count towards directing government policies and activities. There will be no political parties, no back-room alliances or secret deals. All government operations will be fully available for inspection by any member of the public. Once given the mandate by voters to proceed with a program, the government would hire the most qualified people to carry the project forward on time and on budget.
With profit and interest eliminated from society, most of the differences between the public and private sectors will disappear quickly. Both sectors will finally be free to serve the broader interests of the general public, rather than the narrow interests of their previous financial backers. The primary loyalty of corporations will move from shareholders to consumers. The primary loyalty of the government will shift from financial supporters of the party to the general public. Without profit and interest, it won't really matter whether the government or the private sector provides the public services that people demand. Competition from the private sector would quickly reduce the number of internal kingdoms and bureaucratic empires within the civil service. Innovations in delivering public services could streamline government costs significantly. When all labour has the same hour value, the cost of government will tumble.
An hour-based economy would also reduce the complexity of government. Multiple income supplement programs would no longer be needed. Multiple tax collection programs would no longer be necessary. Law enforcement activities related to property rights, patents, etc. would disappear. All of the programs that deal with poverty, homelessness, debt and bankruptcy would be redundant. A host of separate grant and subsidy programs would become obsolete.
A Resource Depletion Premium
For over a century now, we have been recklessly depleting the earth's supply of natural resources. Allowing only profit and self-interest to guide us, we have torn apart the gentle fabric of life that sustains us. So caught up in our own ambitions and abilities, we never bothered to consider what consequences our plunder might bring.
Think of our economy as a race car. Our productive capacity is the engine of the car. Natural resources are the fuel that drives the engine. Human ingenuity and technical innovation is constantly increasing the size and power of the engine. The car is going faster each and every day. The faster it goes, the more fuel is required.
But our race car doesn't have a brake pedal. It was not designed to slow down. The only way we have to stop it is to run out of fuel. We can slow it down temporarily by crashing into things (like a depression) but it always resumes its acceleration.
Conventional economic wisdom would have us believe that higher prices (or higher taxes) will decrease demand and slow down consumption. But higher prices do not extinguish any money, they simply transfer purchasing power from one person or group to another. Higher taxes transfer purchasing power from consumers to governments. Higher prices simply create higher profits for one group at the expense of another. Total purchasing power remains the same, only its distribution is changed. (the rich get richer, the government consumes more and more... does this seem at all familiar to you?)
The Financial Party's pricing system includes a brake pedal for the economy that will not favour one group over another. In our system of accounting, money does not recirculate. Consumption does extinguish money permanently. Higher prices do actually extinguish purchasing power.
To slow the consumption rate of scarce resources and to make recycling more affordable, a resource usage fee will be added to the price of every good and service produced. Resource usage fees will be based upon two primary considerations. The first will be the annual depletion rate of the total remaining supply of a particular resource. The depletion rate for a completely renewable resource would be 0%. The depletion rate for a scarce or rapidly declining resource could run as high as 50%. The depletion fee would be calculated by multiplying the total labour cost of supplying the resource by the depletion rating. If it took 10 labour hours to produce a barrel of crude oil, and the depletion rate for crude oil was set at 50%, then a barrel of crude would cost 15 hours. The second consideration will be based upon the environmental impact of utilizing a resource. Impact assessments will include both the environmental cost of resource extraction & processing and any final waste disposal costs. The environmental fee will be added to the depletion fee to calculate the resource usage fee.
Resource usage fees will be integrated into prices directly by manufacturers themselves. High resource usage fees will encourage manufacturers to develop more environmentally sustainable production strategies. Retail prices will include labor costs, asset depreciation costs and resource usage fees. Nothing else will be added. Asset depreciation costs and resource usage fees will remove a lot of the excess purchasing power in the economy. The key word here is remove. These tools will extinguish the money that workers create, not simply transfer it to another spender. Money will not recirculate. If money doesn't recirculate, and there is no artificial system of debt to sustain consumption, when resources cost more than what was paid out to produce them, then consumption rates will fall accordingly.
Although putting a brake pedal on the race car of the global economy may not be immediately popular, it is the only way to stop humanity from driving recklessly over the ecological cliff we are now speeding towards. If you have any doubts at all about this, please watch the video links that are listed on the Action page of this web site.