Sherri Torjman's article "Hysteria Poor Substitute for History in Public Debate" about the CPP is a lesson that can be transferred to the position paper in the same issue of the Bulletin (January 1997) "The GST & Books: A Taxing Problem for Canadians."
Calling for abolition of the GST on books is simply another interest group's (CAUT) making a case why their special interest should not have to shoulder the tax burden of running our country, including its educational system.
The history is that manufactured goods — about one-third of Canada's economy — was being taxed while the balance of the economy was not. The idea was to share taxation more equally. That is now being done but with much greater complexity than need be through the exclusions, and the costs this imposes on collecting the tax. The exclusion of food is a prime example of political pressure groups (farmers and the food industry) being able to add immense complexity to what should and could be a simple tax consider, for example, that you are charged GST if you buy one doughnut but not if you buy a dozen.
It’s better to tax everything. Books are no more nor less necessary than many things we consume and by taxing everything GST could be reduced from seven per cent to about five per cent.
While no one likes to pay taxes, I feel they are well spent by the various levels of government.
CAUT has better things to expend its limited lobbying resources on than the GST.
Commerce, University of British Columbia