Taxing thoughts

May 23 1983

Taxing thoughts

May 23 1983

Taxing thoughts


I would like to congratulate Maclean’s for its courage in publishing the May 2 cover story presenting issues in Canadian taxation (A Big Budget for Business). Tension between left and right ideologies is worldwide. The interminable bickering between left and right at all levels of Canadian politics, however, is singularly unproductive and reduces our chances of finding creative solutions or compromises to the forces that divide us. The Maclean’s piece was a welcome exception to reportage that tends to focus on exotic personalities, intrigues in high places and the sloganeering of left or right positions. To the publishers, editors and writers of Maclean’s: keep up the good work. We need you. —DAVID KIRSHNER,


I enjoyed Maclean’s coverage on taxes, especially the question of whether the system is fair, and I commend you for pointing out instances where the large corporation or individual seems to be getting the tax breaks. However, I think the table comparing tax liability on income from differing sources, namely dividends vs. employment, is misleading (At Tax Time, Money Talks) in that it ignores the fact that an individual receiving dividends is receiving them from the corporations’ after-tax income. Therefore, although the dividend recipient pays a much lower rate in your example, we must remember that the dividend tax credit he has received is recognition by the system that the cor-

Q OCbCD 0~ 0 0 0 r' 0~ 03 ATTACH OLD ADDRESS LABEL HERE AND MAIL IMMEDIATELY! I also subscribe to Chatelaine and/or FLARE and enclose old address labels from those magazines as well. Name. New Address -Apt. City Prov. Postal code I I I I 1

poration that issued the dividend has already paid that amount in taxes for him. —TERRY ARMSTRONG,

Sudbury, Ont.

I resent the implication that wealthy investors are somehow getting an unfair tax break. I see it as a just reward. As an investor, I have already paid tax on the money I invest because I saved it from fully taxed earnings. If by my combination of good judgment and successful risk-taking these invested dollars earn me money, I expect to pay tax at a lesser rate. After all, I had the discipline to save from my after-tax earnings, I acquired the knowledge to make investment decisions and I took the risks. Thousands like me use their strength, wits, energy and drive to improve their lot. —EILEEN PEASE,


Your article on the flaws of our tax system (Canada’s Tax System: Is it Fair?) will elicit many a cheer. I take issue, however, with its too-ready acceptance of the philosophy that underlies the argument that taxes unlevied or exemptions granted represent tax “expenditures.” This school of thinking rests on the assumption that all wealth belongs in the first instance to the state, portions of which are permitted to be left in the hands of private citizens in the form of “foregone revenues.” My understanding is that the reverse is, or should be, the case: that wealth belongs to the people, who freely decide through their elected representatives to give up portions to finance desirable common objectives. The growing failure of people to understand this basic difference is what makes it easy for bureaucrats and big-spending governments to persuade supine taxpayers that they should be grateful for any spare coppers they overlook by way of “foregone revenues.” — J.B. PHILLIPS,


Indians' rights: no more, no less

Barbara Amiel’s column This Land Is Whose Land"! (April 11) is based on a misinformed conception of the current state of Indian affairs in Canada. In her arguments, Amiel has erected and demolished a straw man. She seems unaware that the 563 Indian bands in Canada are pursuing economic development programs on their more than 2,000 reserves and settlements and that the enterprises constituting these programs often are unrelated to the hunting, fishing and trapping activities that she condemns because they are characteristic of “Stone Age culture.” It is true that despite these development programs, some of which are still in the initial stages, social assistance or welfare payments to Indians on reserves remain much higher proportionately than payments to non-Indians. But Amiel’s magic solution is unacceptable on several grounds. First, there is implicit in her argument the dubious and unproven assumption that Indians in the city encounter fewer social problems such as suicide, unemployment, apathy and alcoholism than Indians on reserves. Second, it is hard to understand why the industrial economy of mainstream Canada will improve the Indians’ lot when that economy during the early 1980s has failed more Canadians than at any other time since the 1930s. If seriously interested in the reduction of social problems, Amiel should discard her contempt for Indian claims to greater self-government. Her article has given expression to the unfriendliness to Indians that lies at the root of some of these problems. —MALCOLM DAVIDSON, Board of Directors, Canadian Association in Support of the Native Peoples, Toronto

I agree with Barbara Amiel’s article This Land Is Whose Land? The abolishment of the Indians’ reservations is long past due. Just because my greatgrandfather sold his land for a handful of beads or lost it in a poker game, a real estate surge or a war, should I demand restitution today? Canada is a country of minorities, and the Indian minority deserves the same rights as any other Canadian citizen—no more, no less. Their past is part of their heritage—it should not be their present!


Stone Age, it is Amiel’s consciousness of Indian issues. She seems to imply that all of the Indians’ problems can be traced back to their culture. How does she explain the Indians’ struggle to preserve their culture if it is so inferior? If she cared to find out, I think she would find that the reason so many Indians have moved to cities is because there are virtually no opportunities on reserves, not because they are tired of being Indians. If anything has been a failure, it has been the government’s sorry policy of trying to make Indians into white men for so long. By main-

I was shocked by Barbara Amiel’s sciolistic column in the April 11 issue. It is grossly unfair to call American Indian cultures “Stone Age.” Many of those cultures were comparable to European cultures in terms of social, artistic and scientific achievement. If anything is

taining that the only “genuine solution is total assimilation,” Amiel undermines the good faith that has been built up between Indian and white and denies the efforts of the Indian people who are trying to stand on their own feet in Canadian society. Worst of all, her attempt to masquerade as an expert on Indian issues is unethical. The shallowness of her article does nothing but discredit Maclean ’s coverage of Indians.

—ALEXANDER STONECHILD, Head of Indian Studies, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College,


Gould’s piano*, essence of the man

I would like to comment on the projected treatment of Glenn Gould’s Steinway piano in preparation for its placement in Rideau Hall (People, April 11). If Gould’s piano is indeed stripped and repainted and if appropriate portions are rebronzed, it will no longer be Gould’s piano. What it will be is an interior designer’s dream in 1983 taste. It will have lost all its inherent historic value (not to mention monetary value) and it will look as if it were made yesterday—it will certainly not look as if it was actually used by Gould. If this artifact is to remain a viable part of Canadian cultural heritage, it must not be relegated to the status of an interior design prop. —ANDREA S. NELLES,


McLuhan’s fair market value

My evaluation of the Marshall McLuhan collection of papers for the public archives (The Message Is the Price, Ideas, April 11) represented the fair market value, that is, the price that I believe the collection would realize on the open market. The accuracy of this evaluation is indicated by the remarks of the director of the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas, stating, a year later and in more favorable economic times, that “$300,000 would be a reasonable amount.” The decision of the public archives to offer substantially more than fair market value is its decision to make. However, it does not reflect the price range of the collection in open competition. —KENNETH RENDELL, Newton, Mass.

Tenderness dressed in leather

Having read the novel The Outsiders five times and just recently seen the movie, it is my opinion that your review is unjust (Rebels Without a Cause, Films, April 4). You use words such as “heightened” and “strained” to describe the movie and say that if Francis Ford Coppola had just made a gang picture, it would have had more natural expression. That is definitely not so. I think Coppola was trying to get away from the ordinary gang picture, which would not have the feeling this picture had, nor the impact. For once, adults who have seen the movie do not regard kids who dress in leather jackets and who carry knives in their back pockets as “rowdies,” and that is what Coppola is trying to get across to people. These kids are just trying to fit in and be accepted. Tenderness is heightened for greater emotional understanding and does not turn to mush, as your review stated. —SHEENA DANIELS,

Surrey, B.C.