Government waste knows no bounds. A $45,000 plane trip, a $20,000 cellphone bill, government planes for private and partisan use, expensive restaurants, even more expensive hotels, outlandish severance packages … and that's only what we know.
Imagine the stuff that goes on that we don't know about. It would surely make Alfred Hitchcock roll over in his grave. It's no wonder why we pay more in taxes than we do for food, clothing and shelter combined.
In fact, a recent study reveals the average Canadian family pays $16,678 on their home, $8,139 on their food, and $3,132 on their clothing needs per year. Add all of that up, and add on $4,400, and that's how much the average Canadian family pays in total taxes per year.
Those who would defend the high taxes we pay (yes, they're out there) would cite that our universal healthcare system and education system are worth it. If you are one of those people, stop reading now, for it's about to get offensive.
The reason why taxes are so high is that bureaucracy is allowed to run amok. In Alberta, we have 87 elected members in the legislature. This might sound reasonable, until a closer examination is taken. The City of Calgary has 15 municipal politicians –14 councillors and one mayor. Calgary, however, suffers from a provincial infestation. There are a staggering 25 MLAs residing in the city.
The numbers are similar in Edmonton. The city has 13 municipal politicians – 12 councillors and one mayor. Alberta's capital has 19 MLAs. To fairly compare Calgary and Edmonton, however, the entire Edmonton region needs to be included. When the surrounding municipalities are taken into consideration, the capital region also has a whopping 25 MLAs. What makes the comparison even more nauseating is counting all of the municipal politicians in the capital region compared to Calgary – there's enough of them to choke a horse, but that's a column for another time.
All of these MLAs, of course, draw a salary, and a handsome one at that. The base pay for an MLA is $156,311. That's 50 per cent more than the average Canadian family makes in a year. Cabinet ministers make $234,467 per year. Then there's the pay for committee work and, of course expenses.
Let's imagine, for a moment, that we trimmed the number of MLAs by 20 per cent, reducing the number to 70 (I'm going out on a limb with the assumption the province wouldn't crumble before our very eyes). That would save the province (us) over $2.6 million annually, just in base salary. Toss in expenses, and we'd easily save in excess of $3 million.
A few million dollars might sound like a paltry sum when we look at the provincial budget, but how many charitable organizations could put that kind of money to good use? How many homeless people could we feed? How many hospices could we build?
If we could be assured we were getting value for our money, perhaps we'd turn the other cheek towards high taxes. That is, unfortunately, hardly the case.
Brian Bachynski is the publisher of the St. Albert Gazette.
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