Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fiscal imbalance: the great game

The extra- and ultra-Constitutional transfers of taxpayer wealth between municipal, provincial and federal jurisdictions, agencies and special interest clients in this country are so utterly pandemic, labyrinthine and underreported these days that the fiscal imbalance canard is an unrestrained addiction among politicians and political interests everywhere simply because it cannot succumb to any real or simple scrutiny by even the most interested of investigators but does act to suggest facilely an absolution of financial responsibility by the claimant for fiscal woes even where they would be quick to leap for credit on any successes. Too useful and satisfying a political stimulant to abstain from, to resolve the inequity of transfers by eliminating them is unheard of — the proposed solutions from the high-seekers are always to increase the drip!

From the London Free Press:

After years of protests from municipalities, Ontario says it will review how social housing, street repairs and many other local services can best be delivered without destroying municipal coffers. Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the 18-month review yesterday in a speech to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting here this week.

"I'm delighted," said London Controller Gord Hume, attending the conference to give a talk about the Creative Cities task force he chaired. "This has been a five-year battle for me and many others. It's about sustainable funding and better servicing for the people of Ontario."
The term "sustainable funding" is a polite, fuzzily environmentally-friendly-sounding euphemism for permanently entrenching tax increases in a binding agreement to transfer provincial revenues to municipal jurisdictions. The aggregated funding comes from the same Ontario taxpayers whether extracted at the local or provincial level — in fact, the suggested transfers of "sustainable funding" require that taxpayers in jurisdictions that have to deliver fewer services or deliver them more efficiently must subsidize those that deliver more or less efficiently. Sustainability in the political context of Mr. Hume means access to revenues that purportedly benefit his own constituents without having to take electoral responsibility for its collection — for taxpayers, it means permanent obligations.
Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa McLeod, a critic for municipal affairs, said the premier is deliberately avoiding what municipal leaders call Ontario's municipal fiscal imbalance.
More to the point, Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and municipal leaders are avoiding the genuine peremptorily asymmetric grievance between jurisdictions — the provincial government's mandating of service provisions by municipalities. Abolishing these absurd liabilities would simply and finally render claims of fiscal imbalance moot, but no parties to the debate will seriously entertain this idea — while the opposition enjoys the opportunity to criticize the government at no cost of scrutiny, the provincial government enjoys the political capital of legislating an appearance of humanitarian caring and managerial common sense, and municipal leaders obscure the mostly discretionary nature of their appropriations and expenditures. Any outcome of this review will not benefit taxpayers in the slightest but only entrench the self-serving confusion of jurisdictional responsibilities. The gamesmanship of fiscal imbalance makes loud victims of governments when the real imbalance is between the taxpayers and all their governments.


Pietr said...

Gordon is a moron...
(Gordon is a Moron)...
It's not fair, I don't care,It's not fair, and I don't care..
-Jilted John

rhebner said...

sorry to do a OT and hijack this thread, but have you read about this honour killing yet?

What kind of disgusting piece of vermin would kill his own daughter?!? I hate to come across as a religious bigot, but there are some Muslims in this world who do not deserve to live.

Absolutely unbelievable. As a parent this brings me close to tears.

BBS said...

Why is it that a city like Toronto can run huge deficits and get bailed out by the Province each year but at the same time be one of the few municipalities in Ontario to provide up to 75% refunds on municipal political donations? The road to fiscal responsibility and at the very least balanced budgets, starts one dollar at a time.