Tax Freedom Day (TFD) should be a national holiday.
The only problem is the actual day, (as determined
by the Fraser Institute) on which we stop paying
taxes and fees to all levels of government and
start paying ourselves, varies every year.
It depends on how many new ways the politicians
and bureaucrats have found to part us from our
cash. Despite declines in personal income taxes,
we paid more last year than in 2000—mainly
through fees. Two examples: The federal airport
security fee—“temporarily” levied
to help keep terrorists off flights to Nunavet,
and the provincial “convenience” fee
for the pleasure of renewing my licence at a person-less
kiosk in a shopping mall.
Newfoundland’s day (May 31), came nearly
a month earlier than the national average (June
28), which is only fair since everything else
there is thirty minutes ahead. Québec’s
was last (July 3); probably a result of the huge
increase in fees paid to the feds by its burgeoning
Still, we should reflect on all of the valuable
services and institutions supported by our non-voluntary
contributions while remembering that the notion
of value for money does not figure into the “tax
In some ways, every day following tax freedom
day is a tax holiday, so I guess we shouldn’t
push too hard to officially commemorate our financial
independence: that might lead to another fee.
Then on Canada Day, escaping the massive heat
wave at my local air-conditioned watering hole,
I watched a self-congratulatory commentary on
our public broadcaster about Canada’s “surprisingly
strong GDP.” Being economics-lite, I’d
thought that Gross Domestic Product was the garbage
baking on Toronto’s streets, not the market
value of all goods and services produced by Canadians.
With this important clarification and another
round of product before me, I mused about the
concept of growth as the best measure of Canada’s
Somewhere from the recesses of my mind came the
memory that two consecutive quarters of negative
GDP produced the dreaded “R-word.” Kind
of like an Argos football game. To avoid recession
(and the threatened elimination from our pension
payoffs) we’ve being brainwashed into thinking
that growth must continue—no matter what.
And in Niagara we’re doing our part. More
students than ever are coming to Brock, easily
justifying the addition of another mega-bar on
James Street and, at least for eight months of
the year, rectifying the embarrassing statistic
that St. Catharines' population is declining.
But additional citizens can be expected through
teenage pregnancies, which continue to increase
despite the growth of prevention initiatives (Canada’s
rate of 43 for 1,000 is five times greater many
Marineland’s expansion will increase tourism
and end the blubbering about premature dead whale
syndrome; the proposed superhighway from Hamilton
to Welland should simultaneously relieve traffic
and spread around carbon monoxide more equitably;
plans to raise the speed limit will be a boon
to rehabilitation centres and auto repair shops
But in the midst of my reverie about our region’s
future, my cranium dredged up another notion that
I must have been suppressing since the ’87
crash: GDP only measures productivity; it doesn’t
factor in the negative effects from such nasty
bits as industrial waste. As if on cue, a severe
air quality warning for all of southern Ontario
flashed menacingly across the bottom of the big-screen.
But wait. If industrial growth produces smog,
and that increases the number of people requiring
treatments in hospitals and private clinics, then
doesn’t pollution actually increase the GDP?
Why don’t we drink to that?
Is bigger always better? I shifted uncomfortably
remembering the result from my bathroom scales
earlier that day. But my mood quickly brightened
knowing that I had no requirement for the highly revered
medication that some of my buddies needed to ensure
temporary expansion of their limping limbs.
OK, if GDP’s about everyone, how, then,
can we measure ourselves? What’s my Net Personal
If I took all of the pluses (friends, family,
work, hobbies) of my life and, truthfully, subtracted
the minuses (over-indulgences, pettiness, stubbornness,
lies)—like a human balance sheet—what
would my net worth be?
No math this time; that’s for things. I’d
like to quantify my feelings of fulfillment and
contentment with what I have around me.
But would I calculate my NPP honestly or, like
those who must appear bigger to others, would
I inflate my assets and keep certain liabilities
“off the books?”
I’m not alone with these thoughts: As Virginia Woolf said, “Let us not take it for granted that life exists more fully in
what is commonly thought big than what is commonly
What’s really important is growing the parts
of us that make life worthwhile. JWR