No Matter The Issue – Government Always Relies On The Same Two Solutions
We live in a point in time where the challenges we face are highly complex. Whether it is crime, the environment, the economy, healthcare, education or any one of a dozen other issues, the root causes are difficult to identify and solutions are not easily developed or found.
Nonetheless, we task our governments to find those solutions and right smartly. We’re very impatient and we demand action and typically, government complies without much real thought and instead falls back on either one of two solutions or a combination of the two.
Either they increase taxes or they impose new regulation on those who didn’t break the law and create the problem in the first place. Sometimes they combine tax increases with new regulations and laws in order to show just how serious they are about the issue.
Inevitably, the solutions seldom work and the reason for that is fairly easy to understand; the solutions have little to do with fixing the real problem. They are the illusion of a fix that provides some relief to the demand for action but almost never deliver long-term, permanent solutions that actually overcome the challenge.
In fact, these two solutions are so readily available; they are often employed automatically even before it is actually clear just what is going to be addressed. That’s how we end up with municipal budgets being developed that require annual property tax increases before spending priorities are even discussed let alone identified. The mayor and council meet, determine the size of the property tax increase and then set out to build a budget that stays within it.
Politicians aren’t unaware of the tax fatigue they have created so they are constantly looking for new labels because they believe that if they find a different name for it, we won’t notice how badly they’ve managed our tax money in the past and a few might even take up their rationale for tax increases and support them. Usually, they’re right.
That’s been proven once again by the discussion about introducing ‘tolls’ on roads to pay for their maintenance. The fact that we are already paying extra taxes to accomplish this including the tire tax and some of the gas tax is no longer relevant. That money got used for other things and more money is needed but that simple fact is ignored by those who are quick to jump on the bandwagon in defense of some government’s new proposal to take even more money out of the economy.
There are already those in the media supporting the idea of a toll on roads to support the repair to Toronto infrastructure rather than demanding that City Hall stop wasting the money it has on stupid programs it – and we can’t afford.
The other approach government takes is new law, new regulation and it is always targeted to every day law-abiding citizens. I believe it is because every day citizens are simply more compliant than criminals and psychopaths who too often inconveniently ignore the new laws in pretty much the same way they have tended to ignore the old ones.
It is an uncooperative attitude that makes fixing a real problem too difficult so it’s just easier for government to appear to be doing something by imposing new restrictions on those who weren’t part of the problem to begin with.
The former Canadian Gun Registry was a perfect example and one that is about to be repeated in the United States.
Put aside the argument about the proliferation of guns being the problem even though that’s been pretty much disproven in places like Switzerland. Let’s assume for a moment that tighter control of the acquisition of guns would reduce crime. How does a gun registry accomplish that objective?
The truth is it doesn’t.
That’s what the Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) is designed to do. Before being allowed to purchase a firearm in Canada, a person has to obtain an FAC which includes a police background check. Only if the applicant passes that check will they be granted an FAC which will permit them to legally acquire a firearm. Handguns in Canada are even more strictly controlled and regulated.
So what was the purpose of the $2 billion Gun Registry? Good question.
Do some really believe that a person who could kill their mother and then 22 children would not have figured out some other means to kill if there hadn’t been a gun available?
Yesterday in Canada, a man went on a rampage in Vancouver randomly stabbing seven people. How does gun control prevent that? It doesn’t because gun control doesn’t address the issues that cause some to go on these rampages. It merely provides an easily implemented illusion of a solution that leaves us no better protected from them.
The Gun Registry did nothing to make Canadians safer or reduce gun crime. What it did do was create a lot of busy work for government bureaucrats who dutifully built a database where every gun owner had their guns listed and recorded and wasted $2 billion that could have gone into healthcare or some other priority, including increased law enforcement.
Typically, criminals, gang members and others didn’t register their firearms but then typically most of their guns were obtained illegally without an FAC.
So what was the point? It made government look like it was doing something without actually doing anything at all other than waste money and interfere in the lives of law abiding citizens.
That isn’t an argument for or against gun control; it is merely an example of how government thinks and operates. The motto is, “path of least resistance lead me on.” The real problems remain unaddressed while every day citizens continue to pay for the actions of those who don’t obey the law.
And pay we do both in terms of unwarranted intrusions into our lives and in real and hard-earned cash.
We now have user fees to use facilities and services our tax money built and maintains. There are fees to park at our hospitals and government buildings our tax money built and pay for. There are income taxes, sales and consumption taxes, property taxes, school taxes, estate taxes, oil and gas taxes, sin taxes on cigarettes and booze (and gambling winnings in the United States); taxes on tires, surtaxes, fees to renew passports, birth certificates and just about every other document the government requires us to have including a driver’s license. There are so many taxes, user fees and special charges I can’t remember or even list them all.
Typically, the average Canadian pays more than 50% of their income to all levels of government and what do we have to show for it?
We have a healthcare system that is crumbling under rising costs that border on extortionist; educational systems that are graduating students who can’t find the Atlantic Ocean on a map even if they can read a map which many can’t. We have environmental assessments for even minor projects that take so long, economic and employment opportunities are delayed, sometimes for years and too frequently lost all together.
We have government debt that is spinning out of control and increased annual deficits that causing continual reductions in front line services for everything from healthcare to education.
I believe the reason for all of this is because we elect too many people who are not qualified to sit in government and to make decisions on our behalf. Indeed so incompetent is government in the management of our affairs that it often makes Theresa Spence’s management of the Attawapiskat reserve look positively accomplished and she can’t account for 80% of her reserve’s $34 million dollar annual budget.
We have stiffer requirements to qualify to become a plumber than we do for someone to get elected to public office where they will participate in making billion, even trillion, dollar decisions. Consider for a moment the impact on a company like Microsoft or Apple if they elected their Boards and executive management team from the general public and the election was open to anyone of legal age who was merely a citizen. How long do you think those companies would last?
But because it is government, it does last because government is a monopoly that gets to make its own rules and charge whatever it requires whenever it requires, and with the full force of laws it enacts, behind it.
Government is obsessed with the short-term, usually not much further down the road than the next budget or election. Unfortunately many of the challenges we face today are larger than that and require long-term strategies that will not be constantly changed by momentary political expediency or by the next administration based on ideology.
Indeed, the phrase government strategy is an oxymoron. Squirrels have better long-term winter preparation strategies than most governments have when planning and managing our affairs.
Two things remain constant.
When a politician tells us that it isn’t about money – it is always about money and almost always – our money. It means that we’re about to lose more of our money to government mismanagement and paying for more programs that will not address the original problem. In fact, when they aren’t being used to buy votes, usually the new taxes, user fees or other charges are needed to fix the mess created by the ‘solutions’ they implemented the last time they tried to fix whatever it was.
When government tells you that the new laws will address our concerns about whatever it is that concerns us – it won’t. It will simply impose more regulation on you and me without ever coming close to addressing the real problem.
The challenges are complex – the solutions evasive. We need courageous and thoughtful people to address those challenges but instead we continue to elect career politicians who are less qualified for their jobs than trades people are for theirs and that, my friends, hasn’t been serving us all that well lately.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others
Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send a friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear