Defin­ing eq­uity

National Post (Latest Edition) - - LETTERS - Tony Yar­ran­ton, Cal­gary

Re: Morneau fights back against tax change ‘ mis­in­for­ma­tion,’ Sept. 14 The aim of the Lib­er­als’ tax­a­tion pol­icy is said to be help­ing the mid­dle class. The word eq­uity is bandied about to jus­tify it. Isn’t it time we had a broader public de­bate about what eq­uity means?

When so­cial­ists be­gan to make an im­pact on so­ci­ety their goal was equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity. They be­lieved, quite jus­ti­fi­ably, that the Euro­pean class sys­tem de­nied op­por­tu­nity to the un­der­priv­i­leged. To­day the goal es­poused by the left, in­clud­ing the me­dia, is equal­ity of out­come. Is that eq­ui­table?

When my fam­ily and I moved to Cal­gary in 1979 we of­ten heard that the dif­fer­ence between On­tario and Al­berta was that in On­tario, if you worked hard, in­vested your earn­ings and made money you were ex­pected to feel guilty about it; in Al­berta if you worked hard, in­vested your earn­ings and made money peo­ple wanted to know how you did it so they could do it, too. Which is the health­ier at­ti­tude?

The de­bate about tax pol­icy is partly about rev­enue gen­er­a­tion and partly about re­dis­tri­bu­tion. Re­dis­tri­bu­tion re­wards cer­tain types of be­hav­iour. Do we want to en­cour­age peo­ple to be am­bi­tious and work hard to be­come fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful and in­de­pen­dent or do we want to en­cour­age them to be­come pas­sive, de­pen­dent and mis­er­able? Equal­ity of out­come does not send a con­struc­tive mes­sage.

BEN NELMS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau is fac­ing back­lash over pro­posed tax changes.

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