Author: Kevin Avram

How Much Does A Civil Society Cost?

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who once said that taxes are the price we pay to live in a civil society. The year Holmes was appointed to the Supreme Court (1902), Tax Freedom Day in the United States arrived on January 21st. Canada’s tax burden was similarly low. At the time, there wasn’t any income tax in the United States, or in Canada, nor would there be for many years. When a permanent income tax was introduced, it happened in the United States some years prior to Canada’s Parliament moving in that direction, and...

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Facts Are Stubborn Things

Attar was a Persian chemist and poet. He told the story of a king who asked his wise men to invent something that could make him happy when he was sad and sober-minded when he was otherwise disposed. In response, his sages fashioned a gold ring etched with the words, “This too shall pass.” “This too shall pass” is not an attitude of apathy or fatalism. It is not apathetic to say “this too shall pass” when the electricity goes out on a cold winter night, nor is it fatalistic to tell someone “this too shall pass” when they’re...

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The Point and Purpose of Work

The thing some people fail to understand about capitalism and free markets is that their purpose is not to create jobs, but to create value. There’s an important distinction between these two ideas. People and politicians who don’t acknowledge that difference not only misunderstand the point and purpose of capitalism and markets, they misunderstand the point and purpose of work. This is pointed out by Tom Parker in his introduction to the downloadable book, The Morality of Capitalism.* Economist and Nobel Laureate, Milton Friedman, and former Alberta Premier, William Aberhart, each told stories that explain the disparity between the...

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Russian Gardens, Egg McMuffins, and Why No One Washes a Rental Car

In 2000, private garden plots in Russia accounted for only 6% of all agricultural land. Yet the majority of the country’s livestock, milk, vegetables, poultry, and potatoes, came from these household plots—as much as 65-90% of total national output.* How could 6% out produce the big collective state farms that controlled the vast majority of the land? The difference was ownership. The individuals and families with private plots were always looking for ways to gain efficiency, because every time they could cut costs and increase yield, they and their families benefited. The workers on the big government-run collective farms...

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How Taxpayer Cash Rewards Bad Fiscal Policy

Imagine you are from a family of ten. You and your nine siblings grow up and leave home. Then the three or four who are most industrious have to send money home each month so Mom can give it to the three or four least industrious. Mom calls it “equalization.” Those who get up early and work the longest never enjoy the fruit of their own labour. Rather than having cash available to build a new house, start a small business, or otherwise invest, they find their money drained off by the “equalization.” The less disciplined of the ten...

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