Monday, March 22, 2010

Involuntary Charity by yet another tax: G8 Style


Canadians have every right to feel over-governed.  I pay taxes to my local Municipality, the Regional, Provincial and the Federal governments. Each successively higher level of government seems to have less beneficial impact on my life and I have less influence on their spending as my "vote" becomes more diluted.  

What if I told you that a Super-Federal government, a world government also wants your taxes to finance its projects? That is the proposal of some members of the G8 countries (see photo from last G8 meeting). The tax is called the Financial transactions tax (FTT), and it is tiny (anywhere from 0.005% to 0.05% depending on sources) but its revenue generation is huge. That's because the tax would be levied on financial transactions including stocks, bonds, foreign exchange and derivatives (futures, options etc.) trades world-wide. Its estimated that the tax would generate somewhere between $447US billion and $1022US billion (thats a trillion!) annually, not chicken feed. Apparently Canada does not support this tax. Julio Montaner and Stephen Lewis, in a recent Globe and Mail column think that Canada needs to get with the program. 
"Once a leader in health and equity, Canada is now the only G8 country that is determinedly, inexplicably and shamefully opposed to an innovative financing tool – the financial transactions tax (FTT) – that would produce billions of dollars to meet critical global health needs."
These guys go on to say that:
"It's one thing to oppose heavy taxes in a time of economic hardship. But the FTT, which has been endorsed by Britain, France, Germany and the International Monetary Fund (with friendly interest shown by U.S. President Barack Obama), would levy a fee so small (as little as 0.005 per cent) on the millions of daily bank financial transactions that one would need a magnifying glass to even notice it."
How could economies lose as much as a trillion dollars annually and not notice it?  Would you not notice that leech on your leg perpetually sucking your blood? I think eventually you would. That is the essence of this idea, charitable donations are "too voluntary" according to Montaner and Lewis. Funding for global health needs must be institutionalized and the best way to do that is to have this esoteric FTT that common folk won't even notice. Sneaky eh?  Imagine how diluted your "vote" is as a member of the G8 countries?

For those of us that live in Southern Ontario be aware that the next G8 meeting is in Huntsville Ontario, cottage country this June. You can be certain they are going to discuss the FTT. Time to exert whatever influence you have, write your MP and MPP and let them know that voluntary charity is the way to go. Do it.    


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