Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Other Ralph Rebate

It seems our finance minister has become so jealous of his namesake in Alberta that he's come up with a "Ralph Rebate" of his own:

Sources told the Canadian Press on Wednesday that the federal government's proposed Surplus Allocation Act would send taxpayers a slice of the surplus along with their income-tax returns.

The legislation is expected to be tabled Friday, and will outline a spending plan for the surpluses that Ottawa frequently racks up.

In what's known as the "one-third, one-third, one-third" plan in government inner circles: one-third of all unexpected surpluses will go to debt relief; one-third to program spending; and one-third to taxpayers.

In an interview with CTV's Mike Duffy, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale wouldn't categorically confirm the proposed bill. But he said when Canadians were asked in market research surveys what they would do with the government surplus, a "vast majority" responded in kind to what the government is proposing.

Goodale called the plan a "balanced approach" to fiscal governance which has served the government and Canadians "remarkably well."

Nice idea. One problem with it: as any bank will tell you, it costs money to cut a cheque. It costs the government -- and by extension the taxpayer -- money to figure out how to divvy up that one-third, money for the paper the cheque is printed on, money to mail out the cheque, etc.

But there's an easier solution for this government to save money on processing this "Ralph Rebate": don't collect the amount from the taxpayers in the first place. In other words: reducing taxes will cost the government less money than sending out rebate cheques.

But of course, the Libranos don't think like that. That's what happens when you're in government too long.