The View From Here
Smoky River Express Reporter
The phrase, usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,’ is only partly true because for some people, mainly the ultra-rich, taxes are not quite the certainty they are for the rest of us.
The Panama Papers have exposed how the wealthy set up shell companies, bearer shares and every brand of contrivance to distance offshore, hidden wealth from the names of the individuals who own that wealth.
Other manoeuvres the super-rich resort to when they find taxes disagreeable are to move themselves and their well-healed families off shore, or to some other shore where the tax climate is more suitable to their metabolism.
One case close to home is the Alberta billionaire, Murray Edwards who is, among other things, chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited and a primary owner of the Calgary Flames.
Edwards recently left Calgary and is now living in London England. It is widely believed that the reason for Edwards’ departure is that taxes in Canada and Alberta are too high for the filthy rich.
It is hard to believe that anyone could become a billionaire in spite of the system discriminated against his or her financial interests.
However, it appears that the new increase in tax for those at the top of the economic scale is impeding them from amassing additional billions and that is both counterproductive and unjust.
The reasoning is, that once people amass wealth they have somehow earned a dispensation and should go on doing so unimpeded, exempt from all restraints, especially proportionately fair taxes.
Some might suggest that the federal and provincial governments, by taxing the wealthiest individuals are chasing money out of the country and the provinces.
Rich individuals and politicians who do their bidding, also like to float the idea that the prudent thing to do is to acquiesce and give these striving billionaires what they ask for.
In a less than veiled threat we are told that to not give in and pander to their interests will hve dire consequences.
Of course, to bend to the demands of the rich is to allow one group in society to dictate to the government how much they are willing to pay in taxes.
They can make these demands nonchalantly, because they have the money and freedom to do so and if they do not get their own way, they will take their proverbial ball and go home, or in this instance, leave home.
Others, regular employees, small business owners, farmers and self-employed trades people do not have the leverage to threaten the government no matter how unfairly the tax game is being played.
Unfortunately, tax evasion is not only the pastime of corporations and their wealthy CEOs but also government leaders.
The prime ministers of Iceland, Ukraine, and Britain have all benefited to varying degrees from the “perfectly legal” but ethically reprehensible practice of sheltering money offshore.
The enormous gap between legal and ethical needs to be bridged to curb the political aspirations of those who try to avoid paying taxes in the country they wish to lead.
It is another example of unfettered hubris and greed, those two negative attributes that seem essential for success in our present business and political environments.