Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Symmetry Watch

Will the people who argued that budget surpluses were equivalent to 'overtaxation' now argue that budget deficits are 'undertaxation' and push for tax increases?

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The sad part is, you could make an argument that one's responses need not logically be symmetrical, but that argument would be pointing out that since we have an accumulated debt in the hundreds of billions, we should be running surplusses through good times and bad (larger surpluses during good times, naturally) in order to eliminate the debt.

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4 Comments:

  • http://www.fin.gc.ca/frt-trf/2007/frt07_1-eng.asp#1

    After the 1999-2000 fiscal year, the government went nuts with program spending. If the Liberals and Conservatives just capped program spending after that year to inflation, we could have chipped away half our accumulated deficit and be in a much, much, much better position.

    I completely agree about debt reduction. Unfortunately, it's the option that gets the least number of votes.

    When times were good, we didn't pack enough acorns, and now that the winter blizzard is hitting us, our reserves are going to be insufficient. This always happens for some strange reason.

    By Blogger Sacha, at 1:37 AM  

  • Here's something I've never been able to wrap my head around.

    If the issue is simply one of the accurate prediction of tax collection and planned budget spending, then sure, we had surpluses. This seems a silly and less-than-helpful definition of a surplus to get upset about.

    If the actual issue is the proper funding of public institutions and infrastructure, I think it goes without saying that we've never, in the history of Canada, had a surplus. Even during times of great surplus, a significant number of issues that more or less everyone would agree are useful never got addressed: modernizing the military, decreasing hospital wait times, doing something significant about the environment, beefing up public transit, etc, etc.

    So only under a ridiculous definition of surplus have we ever had a surplus, as I see it.

    By Anonymous PhilipJ, at 6:39 AM  

  • I'd vote for PhillipJ.

    By Anonymous Deanna, at 8:36 AM  

  • Sacha, I agree with most of what you said, but spending increases after 1999-2000 were at least partly making up for reduced spending prior to that. Federal spending growth rates were quite low over the last couple of decades, but I agree we should have paid down the debt faster.

    Philip - well I was using the standard accounting definition, but you're certianly correct that that doesn't capture the whole picture by any means.

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:01 PM  

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