Re: "HST, a costly victory," Opinion, Aug. 31. Your editorial makes a good point that "taxation by referendum" is dangerous. Indeed, tax revolts divorce the collection of income tax from all the wonderful social services that we Canadians enjoy.
Everything from our world-class public school system to our public health-care system that is the envy of many Americans is paid for by taxes. I am reminded of a scene from the excellent documentary, Poor No More, in which comedian Mary Walsh is flabbergasted when she asks the Swedish man on the street, "What do you think of taxes?" only to hear person after person exclaim, "We love taxes! They pay for all the public services that are so important to us."
I do disagree, however, with your conclusion that "We are all the poorer ..." for getting rid of the HST. Research done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives clearly shows that in shifting two billion dollars in corporate taxes onto consumers, the HST affects low income and middle income earners disproportionately. For while the HST credit offsets the additional cost for the poorest members of society, those who earn slightly above the poverty line, as well as the middle class, end up paying several hundred dollars more a year than they would under the old system. (One of my friends actually kept all her receipts and did the calculation for her own family. For her, the additional cost was more than $500.)
So it's no surprise that the HST results split along party lines. Maybe they did so for good reason - good old working-class consciousness!