by Greg Meakin
I have a mouthy French-Canadian buddy who lectures me about the civic responsibility of paying high taxes in order to fund precious government programs. I do remember my days slinging real estate in 1980s Montreal, and the thrill of shelling out those happy 50% tax rates from my paycheque. It was great.
I couldn't believe the gouging taxes in Quebec, especially on ambitious, high earners.
Now I just giggle to myself whenever I hear about the desperate need for higher taxes to fund any government, in any westernized country for that matter.
I do not giggle about the honourable idea of funding critical social programs; collectively caring for our most vulnerable citizens, keeping us safe, and other core responsibilities of a civilized nation. I giggle about my buddy's hypocrisy, and the screaming hypocrisy of countless liberals I've worked with over the years...when it comes to spending their own money.
My friend has no problem with his government paying apology monies to known terrorists, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars – in pure, hard-earned, Canadian Taxpayer currency. Or my story about President Obama ordering 1.7 billion dollars, give or take, in unmarked cash, flown to a known terrorist enemy? And delivered on wood pallets, in the middle of the night, with no proper authority? No biggie?
My pal's intellectual retort was muttering something about George W. Bush being a moron.
But I'll tell you what, my buddy would scream bloody murder if his expired $20 oil-change coupon wasn't honoured by Canadian Tire.
If I label anyone a hypocrite, I will only do so with my due-diligence complete, and confidence in my conclusion. I've been doing my homework on this for more than fifteen years. Let me explain where this analysis started.
In 1999, the people in the State of Washington voted to lower car licence fees to $30, from what was an average of $500 annually. Some truck and SUV owners were paying more than $1,000 every year for tabs, and they were sick of it. When Initiative-695 became law, it provided immediate financial relief to any citizen who bought or owned a vehicle in the state.
During these years, I worked as a finance manager in the auto industry. I finalized the contracts and prepared licencing documents for all vehicles sold at a Seattle dealership. From minute-one of the new Millennium, the tax-break made an impact on sales. Business skyrocketed, and customers were thrilled.
This is not a debate on tax cuts versus hikes, or government funding models. It is a commentary on the behaviour of vocal liberal activists when addressing these issues behind closed doors – in a personal financial setting.
In this case, when buying a car.
I processed thousands of car deals after the $30 licence fee was implemented in Washington State. From time to time, I would encounter an activist who would act snarky when signing the licencing documents. They would mock the cheapskate, closed-minded minions who voted for the tax cut.
To these nice folks, the low $30 licence fee would jeopardize government programs, and we were all going to die. Like that.
The Pacific Northwest is notoriously activist. Ridiculous sometimes. Seattle, Portland; the Left Coast beat goes on. The opinionated liberals I encountered over the years were all Democrats – the NDP of the United States. Every one.
As a quasi-experiment, I began presenting a quick solution for those who were concerned about this under-funding of government. It was always a bit tongue-in-cheek on my part for sure, but 100% correct in terms of state law.
I shared the good news that they were not limited to just the minimum fee. They could also pay the old fee to the State Treasury in the form of a donation. And they could pay even more – there was no maximum donation!
This extra money would go towards running the government, and the social programs they were worrying about. Or, wherever the state chose to stick it of course. They could pay the regular $500 in this deal, on top of the $30. And they'd even get a tax deduction!
Not one did it. Not a soul took advantage of this donation opportunity. All chose to pay the lower fee, and all Democrats.
Republicans and centrist Independents loved the money-savings, and believed government should cut itself back accordingly – starting with the salaries of all politicians, and cutting from there.
The most common excuse I heard was they would only pay if everyone paid – even though it was a nice thing to do in principle. I have concluded that money indeed comes before principle for these mouthy activists. In every case of this and other discussions with activists over the years, money trumped political ideology. Imagine that?
They refused to contribute their own money towards their own cause. To put their money where their mouth is. They preferred to save the five hundred bucks – and stash it in their own coffers at home!
So, to all of you noble and righteous progressives out there, who scold the rest of us that government drastically needs our money and can't cut itself back?
Please. Lead us all by example. Make a generous donation to your government today.
And I'll just wait here to see a copy of your Revenue Canada receipt, ok? ■
Copyright © 2017 Greg Meakin
Greg Meakin is a Seattle businessman and author who was raised in Montreal. Email him at email@example.com, or visit his website, gregmeakin.com.