Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Time for Direct Action

It has become frustratingly clear that we cannot depend on the government to do anything about our GHG emissions or global warming. The research I did for my previous posts on the topic show this quite clearly.

The Liberals have a horrid track record of saying one thing when out of power and doing another when the get in. The Kyoto protocol and the environment is no different, just in reverse - they did nothing when in power for 4 years after Kyoto was ratified in 2002 and now are pressing a bill to force the Conservatives to do something in 60 days.

The Conservatives, for their part, spent a good part of their first year in power delaying on even bringing forward their much touted "Made in Canada Solution", while cutting and gutting the few good programs the Liberals did put in place. When we did see the "Clean Air Act" it is was a model of doing nothing for 44 years. Clearly the Conservatives only want to spin and maneuver to engineer a majority government, where we will see gawd-knows-what come out. It is clear they don't really accept that global warming is real and caused by human activities, they are using the issue to extort us for votes.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives happily continued subsidizing the Oil and Gas industry to the tune of $1.5 billion per year, totaling close to $10 billion so far. In other words, they are allowing the most profitable sector in our economy to make more profit because you an I reduce their operating costs - thus allowing them to pollute more, with our own money.

As for the NDP, clearly they mean well, but it is also clear, as Don Martin recently observed, that even when holding the balance of power, they cannot get the other parties to do anything constructive. The Greens and the Bloc are essentially, and sadly, in the position of irrelevance right now.

We simply cannot depend on the government - they will not (and indeed seem not to even want to) take care of this. They aren't answering to the people any more. We must take it upon ourselves.

So, for get the government, do this:

1) Act locally, as I stated in my previous posts.
2) Do some of those things that Robert talked about in his series of posts. Or the things Zorph has recommended at the Wingnutterer.
3) Support NGOs that help with Global Warming or GHG reductions, rather than hoping the government will do something.
4) DIY - Do It Yourself
5) Stop paying your taxes.

Yes, you read that last one correctly. Don't pay your taxes. Clearly the government is not (and has not for a while) spending our money wisely, on things that most Canadians support. We grumble and complain, we argue and yell, but every day and every year, we keep writing them a cheque to keep doing what they are doing. At the risk of sounding like a bad bank commercial, its your money, spend it as YOU want it - the government clearly isn't.

Now, I am not recommending doing something illegal, but using the tax system to your own advantage and taking control of the situation. Stop having the taxes taken off every paycheck. Use that money to either maximize your RRSP if you have the space, or to donate to charitable organizations that give tax receipts - The David Suzuki Foundation or Greepeace, for example. Do this to the point where your tax payable is zero, so at the end of the year, when you file, you are not owing. That way, YOU control where your money goes, not the government. YOU can change your mind about that, if you wish. And the government gets no money from you.

The effect of this is twofold. Firstly, those groups and institutions that deserve support, get it because you control the cash, not someone in a back office in Ottawa. Something will actually get done. Secondly, if enough people do this, its sends a clear and resounding message to whomever is the government in Ottawa that you do not agree with their policies and you are withdrawing your support and consent.

That is a message no politician can ignore.

I have applied this to the environment, but the same applies for almost any policy. Don't like that we are in Afghanistan? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that millions go into the coffers of Group Action? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that millions are being spent on unneeded military aircraft in a no-compete bid to Boeing? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that politicians give themselves a raise but refuse to help the lowest paid in society (which helps Walmart and McDonald's more than anyone else)? Withhold your taxes as above. Do it the way I suggest, within the legal confines of the Income Tax Act and you will have no issues.

Update: Damn it, it appears my scheme isn't quite as easy as I suspected. Chris Taylor set me straight over at BBG. Well, do whatever you can then. I stand by the rest of this post:

As the Conservatives are fond of saying lately, the time for talk is over, the time for action is now.

Screw the government. Act now and take control.

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At 5:00 AM, Blogger Jay Currie said...

Go check out my comment at BBG. It is completely doable. Major corporations and Ma and Pa stores have been doing it for years.

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is another angle of protest to bring down the ability of government to function and that would be reject the current tools of commerce.

The Government/banks control the country by the manipulation and debasement of the money supply. To counter act this take all but your day to day expense money and convert it to bullion. You can leave your RRSPs alone or top them up because they will not produce the Gov any income until you cash them.

Hold no dividend stocks, no interest baring bonds, gics etc, better yet sell and convert to bullion

The Reason Gold is going up is not scarcity but world wide monetary mismanagement(to to along with the social mismanagement abdenviromental mismanagement).
The world govs and banks are all in a frenzy of monetary creation which is destroying savings, personal buying power and creating a smaller middle class and more poor. This is allowing the ultra rich to regain much of the power they lost during the prosperity of the 20c.

If people begin to reject the current fiat fiasco which is the engine of control and buy into bullion we begin to strip Govs and banks of their power over us.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger James Bow said...

I wouldn't strike out the post. I'd simply rewrite it to incorporate the comments received at BBG. Chris Taylor's points and Jay Currie's advice are both very good. And I was going to say the same thing: RRSPs and charitable deductions are effective means of reducing your taxes, but they don't eliminate them completely. In the case of RRSPs, I believe they work by counting against your taxable income. For instance, if I earned $25000 in a year and paid $2000 into an RRSP, then my final tax bill would be based on an income of $23000. There's a sensible reason for this: you're setting aside your RRSP money for use later, and the government can tax you then. Taxing you now would be double dipping, and while the government is not above that, this incentive to save money is one of the means that the Canadian government managed to save the CPP from the coming demographic shift.

You'd still pay taxes on the $23000, however. People's tax savings come in the fact that their payroll deductions calculate their income tax based on the original $25000 amount. If you work on contract, as I did for a couple of years, the government bill come April 30 still produces sticker shock. And to prevent you from shifting all of your income to an RRSP, there are limits based on the percentage of your income.

I have no objection to individuals indulging in whatever legal means they have at their disposal to reduce their tax burden, and deductions do help a lot in this regard. I myself am a writer, which means that any book that I buy is a business expense tax deduction, as is the gas I put in my car while I travel to school readings. Or 1/6th of my mortgage interest and my utilities, as I work from home, my home has six rooms, and I tend to use one of them for my writing.

So those who earn a living doing things that they love have a number of opportunities. And as it's perfectly legal, I see no problem in accepting these deductions, since this is the system the government put in and it is our right to use that system to our advantage. After all, that's theoretically why the system is in place in the first place.

If the government feels that the loopholes are too generous, they're welcome to go through the regular process to close them. If they hold the line on taxes (which is possible since tax cuts appear to be in vogue these days), then overall tax burdens are (slightly) reduced and we all win, especiallly if these loophole reductions are applied to corporations -- which the Conservatives did when they decided to remove the tax exemptions on corporate income trusts.

It would be nice to see the tax system simplified, but failing that, you should feel no shame in navigating the Byzantine clauses to discover those deductions that you are entitled to.


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