Idea alert


Doctors for Fair Taxation want their taxes to be raised.

People who earn between $100,000 and $170,000 would pay an extra one per cent on the income between those two figures and income between $170,000 and $640,000 would be subject to an extra two per cent levy. Income over $640,000 and less than $1.85 million would be hit with an additional three per cent and income over $1.85 million would be subject to an additional surtax of six per cent. The group estimates that the federal government would earn an extra $3.5 billion a year and Ontario would raise an extra $1.7 billion.

One of the organizers of the campaign, Dr. Michael Rachlis, says more than 50 doctors have signed the petition so far. A website hosting the petition will go live Thursday afternoon. “Our group considers higher taxes a small price to pay for a more civilized Canada,” says Rachlis, a public health physician and associate professor at the University of Toronto. “We’re becoming a more economically unequal society and we feel this is bad for our country’s health.”


Idea alert

  1. Nothing stopping doctors from paying more taxes if they wish to.

    Story would be more accurately described as doctors want to raise taxes on wealth produces so there is more money for government to give to doctors during salary negotiations.

    • Charity doesn’t work on a societal level, because it puts those who are in favor of giving at an economic disadvantage to those who are not.  Which means, ultimately, those who want to give can’t, and those who can don’t.

      Or in other words, it’s the tragedy of the commons again.

      • Studies show that in jurisdictions with higher taxes there is lower charitable giving.

        It would be interesting to see which is a more efficient method at raising cash, net net.

        Beyond that though there is the question of overhead costs.

        Private charities have gotten very good at controlling costs. Governments on the other hand have ridiculously high labour costs.

        $1 dollar in the hands of a private charity goes a lot further to helping people than $1 in the hands of the government.

        Most of that money goes to Ottawa real estate.

        • Duh. Studies also show that the amount you tend to give remains the same as a percentage of your net regardless of what your net is. So yeah, with lower taxes you see more charitable giving, but that’s because it’s more absolute dollars from the same people.

          Total the amount in both taxes and charitable giving and you’ll see that higher taxes + low charity is a larger amount of money than low taxes + high charity. The difference being that higher taxes makes the uncharitable people pay as well.

          As for overhead costs, perhaps if you consider a single charity, in isolation, it might be more efficient. Of course, a single charity in isolation is simply not reality.

          Reality is multiple charities, all with their own overhead, all competing for the same limited pool of funds, often with overlapping coverage of certain areas and none of any others.

          Government only seems less efficient because of the broad range of things it covers that proffer no monetarily tangible return: military, infrastructure, monetary system, justice system, citizen services such as identification, etc.

          Your assertion that most of that money goes to Ottawa real estate is simply unfounded crap. Although admittedly, there’s probably more of that with Flaherty’s tendancy to sell off government owned real-estate and then rent the same real-estate back from the now private owner.

          • There is no such thing as a binary choice between HT/LG or LT/HG though.

            For each tax bracket there is a graph with limits of 0 and 100% and a dependent variable that reacts in unexpected, non-linear ways beyond the obvious relationship I pointed out.

            There’s all sorts of behavioural economics implications that need to actually be studied in detail and go beyond the assumption that broadening the base is 100% efficient and doesn’t cause any net leakage.

            This is standard optimal rate stuff. Then there’s secondary effects of raising taxes. How does this effect GDP ? How does this effect income over all ? You might be broadening the base but end up with less over all because you’re running into things like dead weight loss. 

            Also you should consider non-monetary contributions like volunteerism – when the government takes over the work of a charity instead of forming a partnership with it do people withdraw free services they otherwise would provide ?

            “Government only seems less efficient”

            Um no. A church worker volunteering to help the homeless for free in their spare time is going to cost far less than a $30 (after benefits are factored in) social worker.

            Ottawa real estate wasn’t a broader economic point. It was a quip about money helping the local government economy rather than going towards helping the poor.

          • I repeat: “Studies also show that the amount you tend to give remains the same as a percentage of your net regardless of what your net is.” I could go dig out the Statistics Canada study that showed that, if you like, but it’s been a couple years since I was seriously researching charities so it could take me a few days.

            So all your attempts at distracting with minutiae (that, incidentally, only apply once you’ve conceded the main point anyway) are irrelevant. It’s very simple. Your net changes, your donation changes, but tends to stay about the same percentage of your net. If that was 0 before, it’ll be 0 after the tax reduction. Ergo, charitable people put themselves at a disadvantage compared to those who are non-charitable. Combine with economies of scale leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that if we replaced taxation with charity, soon only those who don’t donate could afford to.

            And while a church worker volunteering in her spare time may cost less, she’ll also have far less effect. Serving up a free meal has a contribution to poverty alleviation of pretty close to zero. The maximum value it can have is the meal, and that’s distributed over the life of the recipient. A social worker, on the other hand, who can help the person plan out how to become productive and no longer be poverty-stricken, is a hell of a lot more efficient, even at $30/hr.

          • @Thwim:disqus 

            Volunteers do a heck of a lot more than simple manual labour at soup kitchens.

            They also mentor and teach people the same life skills that a social worker at $30 an hour might.

            Its a very poor analysis that doesn’t take into account the economic value of unpaid volunteer work and the effect taxation has on limiting it (both because people think the government will take care of it or because they’re too busy working to make up income lost to higher taxes).

            “Studies also show that the amount you tend to give remains the same as a percentage of your net regardless of what your net is.”

            No, that’s plainly false. A certain fixed dollar amount goes to maintaining your standard of living. Once taxation cuts into that your giving would tend to drop closer to 0.

            Obviously you’re talking about a very narrow band of tax rates. And btw “tends” is a hole large enough to drive a truck through.

          • It’s as plainly false as how heavier things fall at the same speed as lighter things.

            Oh wait..that’s not false either.

            Just did a quick search, this isn’t the data I was talking about earlier, but this does go to show the results I was talking about. Those with the money tend to be those who donate less of it as a percentage. Enjoy.


          • @Thwim:disqus 
            Or that data shows that protestants are richer than catholics …

            As you get richer the tendency to tithe decreases.

            Or it shows a million other things. Context my friend. Controlling for variables.

            Actual data.

            All of these things matter a great deal.

        • You’re quite incorrect on all points with the exception of the jurisdictions with the lower taxes show higher levels of charitable giving. Everything else has been frequently demonstrated incorrect, especially when you control for things like the size of an organization performing the activity. Similarly-sized private organizations are no more efficient than those in the public sector or even the third sector. When the size of an organization increases so does its overhead – especially that dedicated to maintaining the organization itself.

          In spite of the United States being the undisputed king of charitable donations, their lowest income quintile remains far worse off than the majority of the OECD. Private charity lacks the capacity to meaningfully affect the desired outcomes as marked by real indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, educational levels attained, and so forth.

          • Don’t be absurd.

            You can’t take one country, not control for any variables like a large population descended from slaves and an even larger population of recent immigrants from second and third world condiitons, and then say because they are poor are worse off than other OECD countries this demonstrates the country’s model has failed.

            Correcting for demographics alone shows the US on par with European countries on any given metric.

            Honestly i’m sick of hearing about how well oil rich and all white Norway does compared to the rest of the world. That’s the standard comparison that gets trotted out.

            Racist immigrant policies are nothing to brag about. I love America’s open door policy.

        • “Studies show that in jurisdictions with higher taxes there is lower charitable giving.”

          That depends how you measure it. From StatsCan, “The proportion of the population who made a financial donation to charitable and non-profit organizations was highest in the Atlantic provinces. However, the donors from the Western provinces donated higher average amounts. This pattern is, for the most part, unchanged from 2007.”

          • Proportion might be cultural, I was thinking in over all dollar terms.

            A good guide to address your point though might be to check out jurisdictions that have raised taxes and see how giving has responded over a certain period of time.

      •  It’s like conservatives can’t even understand the social fabric.

        • Thatcher said ‘there’s no such thing as society’

          Mind you, there was more to the quote, but the right never remembers that.

    •  This way of thinking is as misguided as the person yesterday who was worried about hypocrisy if the NDP engaged in pre-election advertisements after saying they’d like them banned.

  2. I know that holding one’s breath for lengthy periods can lead to brain
    damage … so I think I’ll continue to commit acts of quiet respiration
    while I await the emergence of Free Market Pundits for Fair Taxation.

  3. Curious that the Con party which used to thunder ‘there is no free lunch’ is quite happy to spend money by the ton, but refuses to raise taxes.

    Social programs, and policies to improve the country require money….there is no way around that. They can be made more efficient and all, but they still require money.

    But the only thing we’re allowed on taxation is ‘cut’.

    This method of running things must depend on magic, because it’s not sustainable otherwise.

    • After this years spending cuts we’ll be on a long term path to eliminating the debt. Ie. a structural surplus.

      So why do you want to raise taxes again ?

      Lots of big new spending ideas ?

      • Isn’t that the 2011 Conservative electoral platform – the minute we eliminate the deficit we’ll be giving tax credits to, say executives who have gym memberships? 

        • Yes, they promised a number of ‘candies’ when they’d balanced the budget. 

      • No we won’t.

        The deficit and the debt are two quite different things.

        • I guess you haven’t been keeping up with Kevin Page’s work.

          With the upcoming budgets cuts, changes to OAS, and the cap on medicare transfers we’ll balance the deficit in the medium term and in the long term have a structural surplus.

          Presumably that surplus would go to eliminating the debt.

          Unless you Coalition Members have big spending plans in mind ?

          • Well for one thing, Martin already did that….and Harper spent us right back into deficit, and a larger debt.

            And no, we won’t be eliminating the debt.

            Plus there is no coalition, and in any case I’m not a member of any political party as you well know.

          • The global recession put us back into deficit, not spending.

            Had GDP growth stayed at the same rate as under the Liberals we’d have stayed in a small surplus.

            And Harper is the only leader who’s ever made large payments against the debt.

            Tens of billions in the first three years of government over the howls of the opposition who wanted expensive new social programs.

            BTW – Yes, you are a coalition member.

            You are either with the government or you are with the coalition. And you are clearly NOT with the government.

          • There was no global recession…there was a global economic crisis.

            And no, Martin paid down the debt as well as turning the deficit into a surplus.

            And there is no coalition.

            I really think you need a dictionary.

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus 


            See 2009 please. That would be a global recession.

            No, Martin did not pay down debt. Every fall he’d spend the surplus on goodies in a mini-budget.

            Yes. There is a coalition.

          • I’m sorry, but you’re simply not making any sense to me.

            I don’t do well with revisionist history

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus Glad we’ve moved on to discussing Martin.

            I take it you’ve conceeded the first point. There was indeed a global recession.

            I’m glad you’ve admitted error. You’ve had trouble with doing so in the past.

      • Most of us don’t want big new spending ideas, we just want to sustain the tried and true like healthcare, food safety and environmental protection. Unfortunately Conservatves are reducing spending on those because they have big new funding ideas: more prisons, high tech jet fighters and lower business taxes regardless of whether that includes job creation, research and development or any contribution to the public good.

  4. I agree with TonyAdams above. Who in the world is stopping this very small group people from paying more taxes if that’s what they want? Instead, they want to force their beliefs on everyone else. Fascinating. 

    • Nobody, but learn about economies of scale and you’ll understand the uselessness of that.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • My mistake, my original post said “Nothing” not “Nobody”. The difference in meaning between the two would obviously confound a pedant. My apologies.

          • Now that’s twice you’ve preferred to play smart rather than prove it. Never ceases to amaze me how people who claim to be so brilliant are stymied by the simplest of questions on here. Why is that?

          • What never ceases to amaze me is people who are incapable of understanding their own questions.

  5. In other news, oil producers are advocating for higher gas prices….

  6. These doctors seem naive to think one would get a more civilized Canada because one raised taxes.  Instead, one might just get more F-35s and bigger prisons.

    • The doctors are going by this:

      “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” – — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

      Of course  Cons define ‘civilization’ differently.

  7. We totally support this as well. We propose that you raise our taxes 2% while giving raising our salaries by 4%. Afterall, you now have that tax windfall and our salaries are now less competitive than doctors in the US.

    • Which would be a great deal of paperwork for nothing…..so we are aware you are joking here.

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