I don’t subscribe to many media conspiracy theories about how the MSM – Main Stream Media – work at the behest of their corporate masters to muzzle the New Democratic Party and keep Canada safe from social democracy.
It’s too convenient, too glib and too complicated to work.
But every now and then I do have to wonder.
Case in point – in Saturday’s Globe and Mail and Monday’s National Post key columnists go all out to trash NDP leader Jack Layton’s call to halt the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ plan to massively cut corporate income taxes and instead use the money for social programs.
And then today the Vancouver Sun's lead editorial - titled "Tax and spend 1: Jack Layton's economic fantasyland" - joins the chorus defending lower corporate taxes.
Note to many other media – Layton did NOT suggest INCREASING corporate taxes – he merely said he would rescind Tory promises to lower the existing 22.12% corporate income tax rate down to 15% by 2012 – at least get that part right!
Simpson: “This is standard NDP boilerplate, and constitutes another flight from reality. Corporate tax rates are only one factor in profitability, location of investment, job creation - but they are a factor.”
“Governments all around the world understand that since capital is mobile in a global economy, corporate tax rates have to be competitive. One sure-fire way of killing jobs and stifling investment would be to raise corporate taxes, which is what Mr. Layton proposes.”
Ivison: “The problem is, if he [Layton] ever made it to 24 Sussex Drive, an almost pathological hostility toward the corporate sector would quickly turn Canada into a North American Zimbabwe .... There is near unanimity these days among economists and politicians that corporate tax cuts improve productivity, attract foreign investment and increase the national wealth.”
Yikes! Robert Mugabe in white-face and moustache, about to ruin our entire economy and then, no doubt, seize the land of farmers, outlaw the opposition and stash the ill-gotten gains of state socialism in his Zurich numbered bank account!
Lastly, the Sun joins in with a remarkably similar argument:
"Layton would hike the corporate tax rate back up to the 2007 rate of 22.12 per cent and not implement scheduled reductions that would have reduced it to 15 per cent by 2012."
"His plan ignores the reality that Canada's corporate tax rate has to be competitive with other jurisdictions to keep business here."
"He also ignores the fact that ordinary Canadians depend on healthy corporate profits not just for their jobs, but also as investors, either individually or through their pension plans. Those profits are already at risk in the turmoil now roiling the markets," the Sun editorialists write.
Unfortunately there are so many things wrong with Simpson’s and Ivison’s columns and the Sun editorial that I don’t have the time or stomach to list them all.
But let’s start with this – if the math or corporate taxes were so simple that even stupid socialists could figure it out, why would any developed nation even bother taxing corporations at all? Let’s be really, really competitive and do away with them!
Secondly, if the definition of a “flight from reality” is merely the modest idea that perhaps, just perhaps, corporations have had enough tax cuts already this decade – and they’ve had several – then maybe many Canadian voters are ready to buy a ticket on that flight.
Third, in a week when the world has seen how unbridled greed and unregulated corporations can devastate our economy, make a trillion dollars or more of stock value disappear in a single day and bring on unmitigated disaster for countless retirees, workers and poor people around the globe, why would anyone listen to a defence of corporate tax cuts?
Lastly, I absolutely favour free speech and the right of Simpson, Ivison and the Sun to publish strongly held views that I happen to disagree with profoundly.
But where is the diversity of opinion, the dissenting arguments that say not only is Jack Layton right on the money – but maybe even that he doesn’t go far enough?
Sadly, Canada’s national newspaper readers are only told that there is consensus about the need for corporate tax cuts, that those who do not agree are “pathologically hostile” towards business, that politicians who do anything to slow the inexorable reduction in corporate tax rates will “kill jobs”.
Happily however, it appears that many Canadian voters are prepared to resist and reject this alleged economic orthodoxy – because they’ve already seen the results of similar wrong-headed approaches to date.
Now if only we could a real national debate in our media on this and other important public policy issues – instead of one-sided pontificating that only gives comfort to those who preach a media conspiracy in this country – and brings new converts to that perspective.
Some more headlines from our balanced media across the country:
Calgary Herald - "Jack Layton's plan would kill Canadian productivity"Ottawa Sun - "Jack Layton and the real world"
National Post - "Layton says money will make poverty go poof"