LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The city is not a business
On Oct. 2, in a discussion of social issues, candidate Daryl Bennett is quoted as saying that city council can't use municipal taxes as a means of "wealth redistribution," collecting from the entire population to help those in greatest need. Then why do we collect taxes? Simply to be accumulated? For whom? Candidate Bennett has, in the past, insisted that the city is a corporation. If so, then are taxes to be used for only profit, as in corporations? Profit for whom?
If the city is a corporation, it is a non-profit corporation, which is defined as one that turns its earnings back into the corporation for social benefit. The “profit” reaped by taxes goes to everyone in a city. It funds the set of human services that is a city. These services – fire, police, recreation, housing, public health, water purity, garbage collection, sewage disposal, Musicfest, etc. – keep a city liveable, peaceful, healthy and functioning – for all people, not just those who pay the most taxes.
The private sector corporate mentality evidenced by Candidate Bennett’s remark shows he does not understand that the issue of drugs downtown (“enough is enough”) is directly related to how we use taxes to make the whole community, not just some people, better off. Does he not remember that city taxes fund rent supplements – a proven way of addressing homelessness and giving people a stable life from which to become employed, raise children, pay taxes? If wealth were not redistributed via taxes, then would greater use of public amenities like Jackson Park be given to those who pay higher taxes? Would the fire truck spend more time at a blaze in the home of someone in a higher tax bracket?
Not everyone is able to reach a high income bracket because not everyone starts out with money (for instance, in the family) or can afford post-secondary education. Manual labourers and childcare workers contribute no less to society than those in high tax brackets. Some people have mental and physical disabilities that preclude high earnings or even employment. Many on low income are working harder than those with big paycheques. Bennett’s misunderstanding of taxes and the nature of a city implies that he believes that every child does not deserve an equal chance to thrive and find a place in his/her community.
A city council’s job is to find the balance between what people pay in taxes and what they get in return. A council must always do this with the well-being of all citizens in mind. Taxes hugely determine quality of life for all. Concentration of wealth, compounded by a lack of understanding what municipal taxes are for, is dangerous to democracy and turns a city into a place of strife, exclusion and sadness. Vote carefully.