HST voters rejected paternalism

Dear editor,
J.M. Presley’s recent letter is a perfect reflection of the kind of attitude that caused B.C. voters to so convincingly reject the HST in this summer’s referendum.
Believe it or not, Mr. Presley, not all of us who so voted are from the ranks of the misled and misinformed. Nor are we all creatures of the great leftist conspiracy – Mr. Vander Zalm himself certainly must be the most obvious proof of this. (He and Ms. Askew could hardly be described as political bedmates!)
Something beyond left-right ideology came into play in this referendum, something beyond the inherent qualities of the tax itself. From childhood, people instinctively get their backs up when told authoritatively that something is good for them – that a parent, teacher or older sibling knows better than themselves their own best interests.
Mr. Presley’s scold exemplifies this I-know-better-than-you-do paternalism.
He may well be right. B.C. may well become less competitive globally as a result of scrapping the HST.
It could be equally well argued, however, that the existence of minimum wage and environmental protection legislation also compromise our competitiveness – is it any accident that such a large percentage of our manufactured consumer goods now come from countries lacking either?
The HST was experienced by many as a bitter medicine forced down our throats “for our own good” by government. The economic meltdown and subsequent turmoil that has swept the industrialized world in recent years has seriously brought into question the wisdom and credibility of investment bankers and multinational corporations (and not just in the eyes of hardened leftists.)
Competition for the attention of these self-same bankers and corporations has inevitably been cited as a primary reason the HST was essential to our collective well-being.
Perhaps, Mr. Presley, B.C. voters might be forgiven for mistrusting their big brother’s admonitions in this instance.
If nothing else, the HST debacle has provided a very expensive example to all of us just what can happen in a democracy when a paternalistic government treats us like naive children or simple provincial bumpkins.
Ken Piercy,

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