Speak­ing of pro­hi­bi­tion ver­sus tax­a­tion ...

The Western Star - - Editorial -

Dear edi­tor: The Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion seems to think that since physi­cians earn money by keep­ing peo­ple healthy, in ad­di­tion to heal­ing them when they are ill, our politi­cians should like­wise profit.

That is what I in­fer from the CMA’s urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to levy a tax on sugar-con­tain­ing soft drinks.

The pur­pose of tax­a­tion is to pay for gov­ern­ment’s car­ry­ing out its proper pur­poses.

If gov­ern­ment deems it wrong for cit­i­zens to con­sume, or for soft-drink mak­ers to sell, some­thing that con­tains more than a cer­tain pro­por­tion, or a cer­tain amount, of sugar, then gov­ern­ment ought sim­ply to for­bid, and pun­ish fit­tingly, such sale or con­sump­tion; gov­ern­ment’s func­tion is not to dis­cour­age wrong while yet per­mit­ting it but to pro­hibit it out­right; dis­cour­ag­ing while per­mit­ting, though, may seem a suit­able pro­ce­dure to fol­low for a gov­ern­ment ap­par­ently two-faced enough to deem ex­e­cu­tion both too cruel to in­flict on mur­der­ers and yet the ul­ti­mate fi­nal kind­ness for mem­bers of the CMA to prof­fer to the ter­mi­nally ill.

Speak­ing of pro­hi­bi­tion ver­sus tax­a­tion, there may be a graver in­stance in which pro­hi­bi­tion should pre­vail, if it is true that “85-per-cent of can­cers are en­vi­ron­men­tally caused.”

Where car­cino­gens oc­cur quite nat­u­rally in a given en­vi­ron­ment, res­i­dents there ought them­selves to re­move or de­stroy th­ese, or to leave, with gov­ern­ment be­ing con­cerned only to pro­hibit and pun­ish their wrongly harm­ing oth­ers thereby.

How­ever, where com­mer­cial or other in­ter­ests were some­how putting car­cino­gens into an en­vi­ron­ment where hu­mans work or re­side, then gov­ern­ment ought to pun­ish any con­tribut­ing thus to hu­mans’ be­ing wrongly harmed.

Levy­ing taxes on those who prof­ited by con­tribut­ing to wrong­ful harm, so that gov­ern­ment could treat those wrongly harmed, as if gov­ern­ing were the prac­tice of medicine, would ren­der po­lit­i­cal em­ploy­ment nec­es­sary, and maybe lu­cra­tive, in a way that po­lit­i­cal em­ploy­ment ought not to be.

Any­way, most gov­ern­ments to­day seem to ig­nore the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple which ought to gov­ern tax­a­tion: Cit­i­zens ought to pro­vide by their own bod­ily work what those in gov­ern­ment need to gov­ern them; they ought to pro­vide th­ese goods out of an abun­dance of what they make or grow to sup­ply their own needs, for what rulers need in or­der to gov­ern is not much dif­fer­ent from what cit­i­zens need to live.

The man­agers in a man­age­rial so­ci­ety may deem them­selves bet­ter than those they man­age, but those who gov­ern in a state well gov­erned do not deem them­selves bet­ter than those they as­sist in gov­ern­ing them­selves.

Colin Burke

Port au Port

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