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10 Insights from the Action Assembly Weekend

“Either I pay taxes or have my mother live with me,” said Neil Brooks with a sly smile. Brooks, co-author of The Trouble With Billionaires (with Linda McQuaig) underlined the value of taxes during the keynote address at this year’s Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) Action Assembly Weekend.

Brooks said that as we shift the line between what’s public and what’s private, the cost to individuals rises as government services become far more expensive to replace privately.

The Action Assembly is the OHC’s annual meeting to plan priorities for the coming year as well as review the victories of the previous one.

November 17-18 the meeting hall at the University of Toronto’s Hart House was packed as health care activists travelled from across the province to meet.

Here are 10 insight moments from this year’s 2-day meeting:

1. Switzerland is a criminal state. Neil Brooks, a tax law professor at Osgoode Law School, said governments have begun to recognize how much money they are losing to tax havens that protect the wealthy from paying their fair share back in their country of residence. It is estimated that $20-$30 trillion is salted away in tax havens, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars to public treasuries. Brooks says more money is leaving Africa for tax havens than all foreign aid coming to the continent.

Neil Brooks, law professor and author.

Neil Brooks, law professor and author.

2. Actor Michael Caine says increasing taxes on the wealthy amounts to government interference. But Brooks suggests that Caine is overlooking the copyright laws passed by the same government that secure his wealth. When it benefits the wealthy, it’s not interference or big government. As top marginal tax rates dramatically decreased in the last 30 years, so did the spread between income growth between the wealthy and the rest of us. Brooks says that with the massive number of films Caine has made, the odds would suggest some of them had to be good.

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