Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The World According to...

Much as I would love to take the Toronto Star seriously as a left wing newspaper--and I am not incapable of taking some left wing newspapers seriously--I can't. Not the Star. It's bumwad.

The matter's well past being one of determining at what point the Star and I part ways to pursue our respective courses. There can be no parting of ways between bodies, respectively, in different universes. The world the Star describes is unrecognizable to me at the most fundamental level. Indeed, and what amazes me more: while Toronto Starland is a quite fantastical place, it is somehow also entirely devoid of a sense of romance; it is a place of shrill, awkwardly and toothily grinning busybodies--relentlessly chattering away in their native tongue, Pedantian, in spite of the absence upon their heads of ears--stuck in a never ending bid to outsuccour the other members of their überclass for the grunting approbation of the masses over which they have absolute charge. Savage, irreligious, slavering elephant-men to a man, these masses ...

Today, it (the Star, I mean) makes its case against income splitting:
At first blush, income splitting seems to bring more fairness to the system. Where someone who earns $80,000 and has a stay-at-home spouse now pays about $3,500 more tax than a working couple each making $40,000, income splitting would leave both couples paying the same.

But one person's fairness is another's pain. Consider a single, divorced parent who also makes $80,000 and pays child support for four children to a former spouse. That person would pay $3,500 more in tax than either of the income-splitting couples, even if they have no kids. Income-splitting sure wouldn't strike the divorced parent as fair.
Um, okay ... Except that under the present system the given divorced parent is no better off anyway. To say, then, that "one person's fairness is another's pain" with respect to this particular inequity is to suggest a causal relationship between the two that doesn't, I'm afraid, exist. So ... erm ... what was your argument again, Mr. Star? That my neighbour--Javier--and I both used to get screwed, but only I get screwed now, does not make Javier responsible for my ongoing, and certainly not increased, screwedness.* I'm supposed to be ticked off that he, a father of two, gets a tiny bit of a break from the grind of making ends meet because I don't? Could I ask you perhaps, for the sake of my dignity and lest my neighbour think considerably less of me, to mind your own goddam business?

But this concern for divorced parents making eighty grand a year paying former spouses four children's worth of child support strikes me as a bit of a blind. Given, that is, that the Star would prefer that both Javier and I continue to be screwed under the old system, and that all of our tax dollars go to the "1.2 million children [who] live in poverty" in this country. Never mind what exactly constitutes "poverty" in a nation with a robust welfare system and universal health care--the implicit suggestion being that these people, daily, undergo hardships of a Dickensian magnitude**--let's just focus on the fact that the Star believes that the responsibility of a democratically elected government, so elected (I hasten to remind you) on the basis of a platform promising that the specific interests of a majority of the electorate be dealt with in exchange for their votes, is to ignore, entirely, those interests once elected.

Such is either the insultingly low estimation the Star has of the average intelligence of its readership, or such is the extraordinary stupidity of its editorial staff that not only do its arguments hinge largely on such embarrassingly transparent logical fallacies (i.e. If married people receive an advantage over divorced people then it must follow that the difference be payed entirely to a third party, who do not, dare I mention it, have the lion's share of interest in the national wellbeing as do the first two types) but they reflect a fundamentally anti-democratic--so, anti-Canadian presumably--expectation of how the nation should work.

Mr. Star: ignoring a mandate from the masses--the majority shareholder in the nation's stock--to ease their tax-burden cannot be the behaviour of a responsible government. Even, and this is important, even if it is the moral thing to do (which, I hasten to add, this wouldn't be). Privileging the interests of the few--even if they are those adorable, 1.2 million cockney-accented rascals, driven to a life of chimney-sweeping to keep a regular supply of porridge on their tables--over the interests of the many is, I'm so very sorry to tell you this Mr. Star, a tyranny.

How is it that Canada's "largest daily newspaper" doesn't actually grasp this?

*I leave it to Andrew Coyne to explain the elementary and obvious fairness--given the relativity of that term (which the Star itself (somewhat bizarrely) concedes, i.e. "The fact is, no tax system can be considered fair to all people. There is always some arbitrariness built in.")--of income splitting.

**I don't pretend that real hardship doesn't exist in this country, but the idea that all 1.2 million children (3% of our population apparently) are poverty stricken for the same reason--i.e. the diabolical machinations of the privileged (erm ... the middle, that is) classes--does strike me as being a trifle hyperbolic.