So­cial­ism is a trap

Lethbridge Herald - - READER'S FORUM -

Ed­ward Saw­don’s let­ter in the Oct. 1 Her­ald re­veals a sad naivete about so­cial­ism. That is what he pro­posed — so­cial­ist-based money to sup­ple­ment peo­ple’s in­come up to a “pre­ferred” stan­dard.

As Mar­garet Thatcher said, so­cial­ism only works un­til the gov­ern­ment runs out of “other peo­ple’s money” (OPM).

Gov­ern­ment has no money of its own. All it can do is col­lect money through fees and tax­a­tion. It may be suc­cess­fully de­bated that fees are right­fully the gov­ern­ment’s prop­erty be­cause they are col­lected for ser­vices ren­dered when peo­ple choose to use a ser­vice. How­ever, taxes are def­i­nitely the prop­erty of the tax­payer be­cause the gov­ern­ment has sim­ply leg­is­lated it­self a por­tion of what the tax­payer has earned for him or her­self at a place of em­ploy­ment. Since the gov­ern­ment has not done any­thing to earn it, it is ba­si­cally co­erced from the tax­payer, but it is a prac­tice we have ac­cepted for mil­len­nia, on the ex­pec­ta­tion that the gov­ern­ment will use it to pro­vide ser­vices.

Mr. Saw­don, I pre­sume, is aware that the money for all the pro­grams he ad­vo­cates will come from taxes. Those taxes will have to be levied upon in­come earn­ers, and they will be sub­stan­tial, or the gov­ern­ment will be writ­ing IOUs so large, it will cause in­ter­est charges to even­tu­ally be­come the en­tire national bud­get, leav­ing noth­ing to pay into these pro­grams.

At the same time, the tax base — those who earn enough to pay in more than they re­ceive — will shrink as peo­ple drop out of the labour force. A smaller tax base means less in taxes. After all, if the gov­ern­ment has promised you all your needs will be met, why bother work­ing when you can just sit at home play­ing video games, tab­bing your cell­phone, or go down to the bar, and still re­ceive enough money and ser­vices to live on?

Ul­ti­mately, with the loss of tax in­come, the growth of debt and the in­ter­est charges payable on it, the level and va­ri­ety of ser­vices will de­crease un­til ev­ery­one is liv­ing in poverty and pub­lic ser­vices — main­te­nance, po­lice, fire, health — are cur­tailed.

So­cial­ism doesn’t work. It’s an OPM (pro­nounced opium) trap — ad­dic­tion suf­fered by gov­ern­ment, tax­pay­ers and ben­e­fits re­cip­i­ents alike.

Ge­of­frey Capp

Leth­bridge

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