Gun­ning for sup­port

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL -

In a field as large as the cur­rent Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship race, it gets hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween can­di­dates. In an ef­fort to grab their share of the base, a range of con­tenders are pitch­ing a range of ideas — from Kel­lie Leitch’s “if it worked for Trump…” to Kevin O’Leary’s all-over the-map “Hi-I’m-vis­it­ing-voteme” drop-in cam­paign.

You never know which con­stituency, large or small, is go­ing to be the next tar­get.

But if there’s one thing that should give peo­ple a lit­tle bit of a pause, it might be Maxime Bernier, and his plan to pro­vide “a fair gun pol­icy for Canada.”

It’s clear that gun own­ers — from hob­by­ists to hun­ters to farm­ers deal­ing with pests — are a pow­er­ful bloc in this coun­try. You need look no fur­ther than the past dis­sent over the gun reg­istry put in place by a for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment. The prom­ise to get rid of the reg­istry was a huge fac­tor in sway­ing vot­ers, so it’s un­der­stand­able that Bernier might want to con­vince vot­ers that he’d cham­pion a re­turn to past prac­tices of less-re­stric­tive gun own­er­ship.

But it’s hard to de­cide just who he re­ally wants to gar­ner sup­port from with one part of his fair gun pol­icy. And that’s the plan to re­move a re­stric­tion on mag­a­zine size in­tro­duced in in 1993.

Here’s Bernier’s take: “Mag­a­zine size re­stric­tions are non­sense. Cur­rent size re­stric­tions do not con­trib­ute to pub­lic safety and crim­i­nal­ize firearms own­ers for some­thing as sim­ple as a flimsy rivet break­ing. I will put an end to mag­a­zine size re­stric­tions.”

The laws on mag­a­zine size, in rough terms, limit firearms to ei­ther five round or 10-round ca­pac­ity, though some smaller-cal­i­bre ri­fles do not carry that re­stric­tion.

Com­mon sense should pre­vail. Cer­tainly, you can ar­gue that no one should be pros­e­cuted for Bernier’s “flimsy rivet” — though ev­ery re­spon­si­ble gun owner should en­sure that ev­ery part of their firearm is in com­plete work­ing or­der.

But stick with the con­cept of com­mon sense. News sto­ries about the shoot­ing at a Que­bec City mosque talked in de­tail about peo­ple flee­ing as the shooter stopped to reload. How many more would have died if he had a larger mag­a­zine?

Af­ter all, it was the École Polytech­nique mas­sacre in Mon­treal that led to the mag­a­zine-size re­stric­tions in the first place. The gun­man in that shoot­ing, where 14 women were killed, used a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle with a 30-round mag­a­zine.

Bernier talks about the need to judge weapons by their func­tion, rather than their ap­pear­ance.

Let’s talk about func­tion with re­gard to mag­a­zines, too.

What, ex­actly, is the func­tion of a 25 or 30-round mag­a­zine? Most gun own­ers in Canada are hun­ters. From a prac­ti­cal point of view, if you can’t hit a moose or a rab­bit with five rounds of am­mu­ni­tion in the mag­a­zine, should you even be hunt­ing? So who, ex­actly, needs a ready store­house of ammo?

When any gov­ern­ment has an enor­mous an­nual bud­get deficit, there are three ba­sic op­tions for solv­ing the prob­lem. The op­tions are: raise taxes, re­duce spend­ing or bor­row. A fourth, un­ac­cept­able op­tion would be de­fault. Un­for­tu­nately, that would de­stroy trust and con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment.

Most peo­ple as­sume that the third op­tion, bor­row­ing, is ac­cept­able for small debts but a large deficit over a long time is dam­ag­ing to the econ­omy.

The main bud­get de­bate is usu­ally be­tween op­tions one and two - raise taxes or re­duce spend­ing. Re­duced spend­ing of­ten re­sults in pub­lic-sec­tor job loss.

Was the op­tion to in­crease taxes, cho­sen by the New­found­land and Labrador gov­ern­ment, the best choice? Do more taxes re­ally in­crease rev­enue enough to fix gov­ern­ment bud­get deficits? Un­doubt­edly there will be an in­crease in rev­enue as a re­sult of the tax in­crease dur­ing the first year. How­ever the fol­low­ing years will see a re­duc­tion in that in­crease be­cause of changes in the mul­ti­plier ef­fect as a re­sult of that tax in­crease.

The “mul­ti­plier ef­fect” refers to the por­tion of a dol­lar of wages or salary that moves around the larger econ­omy, sup­port­ing pri­vate sec­tor jobs. To un­der­stand the mul­ti­plier ef­fect, we need to look at the vari­ables used to con­struct the con­cept mul­ti­plier ef­fect. Three of the vari­ables which help de­ter­mine the value of the mul­ti­plier ef­fect are: the net in­come em­ploy­ees have to use for dis­cre­tionary spend­ing, busi­nesses growth and the num­ber of pri­vate sec­tor jobs they cre­ate.

When gov­ern­ments in­crease taxes there is a neg­a­tive im­pact on th­ese three vari­ables that weak­ens the mul­ti­plier ef­fect. Be­cause gov­ern­ment re­moves more money from the work­ers, the work­ers have less dis­pos­able in­come to spend and dis­trib­ute through the larger econ­omy. They have less money to spend on hous­ing, food, cars, gaso­line and other items. Fewer com­pa­nies can op­er­ate when there is less money mov­ing through the econ­omy. Busi­nesses close and there is a re­duc­tion in pri­vate­sec­tor jobs. Gov­ern­ment in­come from busi­ness tax will de­crease and the in­come tax col­lected by gov­ern­ment will de­crease be­cause of pri­vate-sec­tor job loss. The re­sult is that the in­crease in gov­ern­ment rev­enue will be less than what was ex­pected be­cause of the re­duced value of the mul­ti­plier ef­fect. At the same time, gov­ern­ment ex­penses do not de­crease.

The wide gap in the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment bud­get can­not be fixed with at­tempts to in­crease in­come by in­creas­ing taxes alone. It will dam­age the lo­cal econ­omy and cre­ate con­tin­u­ing prob­lems for the pro­vin­cial bud­get. Re­duc­ing ex­penses in the bud­get is nec­es­sary. It is the un­avoid­able so­lu­tion if we wish to avoid larger loans and op­tion four - de­fault.

Mor­ley Whitt

St. John’s

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