Has the Fraser Institute Lost its Way?

JMaddock — September 4, 2010

As we all know, libertarians and free market liberals tend to be skeptical of new taxes. That’s why it surprised me when the Fraser Institute, British Columbia’s leading “free market” think tank, came out so strongly in favour of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which allows the federal government to impose consumption taxes on goods and services that were previously tax-exempt in BC.

I’m not saying that the Fraser Institute’s arguments are completely without merit. For certain industries (such as logging, mining, etc.), the HST will eliminate cases of unfair double taxation that were present under the previous “Provincial Sales Tax” (PST) regime. This should (in theory) lead to an increase in efficiency and create new jobs, which we all know the economy needs right now. Premier Gordon Campbell, in fact, called it the most important step that our province can take to recover from the recent recession.

But the same increase in efficiency could have easily been achieved by exempting business-to-business transactions from the PST and ensuring that sales taxes (federal or provincial) are only imposed at the point of consumption. Sure, this would have resulted in a loss of tax revenue, but isn’t it a bit disingenuous to give businesses (campaign contributors?) a tax break, then shift that very same tax burden onto consumers?

The Liberal government is, in effect, increasing taxes so as to “stimulate the economy” and “create new jobs.” Isn’t this exactly what genuine free market thinkers are supposed to oppose, both on principle and in practice?

That’s why the Fraser Institute’s support of the HST surprised me so much. Have they become a mere propaganda organ of the BC Liberal Party?

Comments

CodeSlinger says

Jeremy:

It’s not only the Fraser Institute. It’s all of them.

But it isn’t because they’ve lost their way. They know exactly what they’re doing: they are gatekeepers. By taking a stance firmly to the left of centre, and calling themselves an extreme right wing think tank, they make sure the centre of political mass stays well off in left field.

So it’s no wonder Canadians can’t tell Left from Right. They have no knowledge of the Right. All they are told about is Left and Lefter. The only choices they are offered between more and less leavy-handed variations on the theme of collectivism. Nowhere in Canada does the issue of individual rights even get mentioned. The gatekeepers see to that.

As long as Canadians are trained to frame issues in terms of Left versus Right (which is actually Left versus Lefter), it remains very difficult for them to realize that this no longer a meaningful way to frame political discourse.

The danger these days comes from the global plutocratic oligopoly. Some of them are collectivist totalitarians of the left, and some of them are collectivist totalitarians of the right. But they are all collectivist totalitarians, and their goal is to enslave the world.

So it’s not Left versus Right at all.

It’s the Collective. Versus You.

— September 5, 2010

Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Book Club.