In a recent column from a Toronto journalist on communism and capitalism, the writer made an astonishing claim: While “millions have been the tragic victims of communism,” he wrote, “that number pales, surely, in comparison with the victims of capitalism.”
Ever since Berkshire Hathaway Energy announced it would buy up Calgary-based AltaLink Ltd (an electricity transmission company with 12,000 kilometres of power lines), the predictable protectionist sentiment ramped up.
There has been much handwringing over the claimed disappearance of the middle class. From a bestselling international tome to domestic tax-and-spend types who think higher taxes will create more middle-income earners, there is no shortage of those who over-focus on redistribution and underestimate the benefits of opportunity.
If you live in Calgary and you check your property tax bill this month, rest assured you are not imagining things: property taxes really are on the rise and way above inflation.
Some background: Calgarys property tax bill has two components, with the citys share at 56 per cent and the provinces at 44 per cent.
Since 2007, the earliest year for which I have statistics, the province has hiked its rate beyond inflation in five of seven years. But the provincial government also dropped its taxes twice, in 2011 and this year.
Despite 22 years of free trade with Americans, consumers in Canada regularly pay more compared to the U.S. price tag on similar items. That fact has finally come to the attention of Ottawa: Canadians are irritated when they see large price discrepancies on the exact same products being sold on different sides of the border, stated Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, this in his recent letter to the Senates Finance Committee.
I share their irritation, wrote Flaherty, as he requested the committee study the matter.
Those who don't believe in reincarnation might wish to reconsider, as Alberta provides useful examples of those trapped in bad karma from decades past "fiscal karma" in this case.
In an eerie repeat of the 1980s and early 1990s, Alberta's current political leaders have trod the same red-ink paths as did Alberta Premier Don Getty and his colleagues.