Sunday, February 7
Vote on the 2011 federal budget
As the debate for universal health coverage inflamed moods and while half truths were thrown back and forth from all sides, one argument that struck me as peculiar was “I am not paying for your health care.” It did take me aback for a moment because it came from a seventy-year old man. Whose health care the tax payer is financing to a serious extent at least. Let us not forget that 80% of our budget in 2008 was financed by the tax payer and the rest by borrowing. Which will have to be paid back by the future tax payers. Everything is traced back to our pockets in other words.
Allocation of tax money has been hottly debated across countries. In some, the electorate acts on a collective sentiment of shared responsibilities and rights. In others, the electorate has chosen a more individualistic approach. For example, visitors to northern European countries are struck by the extent of social benefits. And the level of taxation of course. They even have universal child care as decades ago the Swedish government realized that if it were to capitalize fully on the female part of their labor market, they had better offer a sound solution to the babysitting problem. (The centers BTW open at 6:30, stay open for 12 hours and accept children older than one year of age.) Their social benefits include secure pensions, universal everything… decent housing for the elderly and significant unemployment benefits.How much tax do they pay? Higher than ours. For a family with one wage-earner and two children, only Iceland and Ireland have a lower income tax burden than the U.S, whereas Sweden, Turkey, France and Poland impose the greatest tax burdens on families. It is my understanding however that property tax has not been co assessed so the US tax rates are probably higher.
But before you jump condemning those darn “socialist” countries, remember one basic thing that many politicians forget when they blast at them. The electorate in these countries voted in such a system. Blasting their system is equal to insulting millions of Europeans and Canadians for thinking differently. And as we learned, ethnocentrism usually spreads blindness…
So, we have two different worlds, two different systems. The electorate in the US is reluctant towards a stronger safety net and they still debate the use of their tax dollars. However, much of the debating is missing focus since we lack concrete proposals on where to economize from. Fighting fraud and waste is good rhetoric but it won’t get you far since no bureaucratic system is immune to these ills. Suggesting certain cuts from a certain sector and reallocating them to another (even the one that pays back our debt) seems far more constructive. So here is the proposed budget for 2011.
How would you re-split the pie? And why? To have again a total picture please vote on the right which sector you think should face most of the cuts. Then vote again which sector the saved monies should go to.
Who knows? Maybe your representatives are reading us! :)