Society ignores tax haven criminals dealing in many millions of dollars but hounds poor people over pennies. This is one example of an infinitely-recurring pattern, where the ultra wealthy essentially rig society in their favour at the expense of society’s poorest people.
Let’s see one manifestation of this dynamic in action.
Canada loses $4 billion a year to tax evasion, because Canada’s wealthiest have more than $200 billion in offshore accounts, and these funds don’t get taxed. $4 billion.
The general public is not demanding blood. In fact, nothing is happening!
In Canada, over the past few years, the CRA has been financially hobbled in just such a way that it can’t really pursue the tax returns of society’s wealthiest people, who necessarily have the most complex, unwieldy paperwork. As a result, apparently it is more efficient for the agency to invest in assessing small- and medium-level tax returns…
Effectively, tax evasion is legal for the very wealthiest people in society.
Compare this lax treatment against how everyday TTC riders are grilled.
TTC riders face TTC Fare Enforcers, a subsection of police there specifically to ensure “the integrity” of $3.25 fares. All this, though more than 97% of TTC riders pay a fare, and the 2.7% who don’t includes people who can’t because a Presto machine was broken.
So, “fare evasion” is a rarity, what evasion there is is tiny, and “fare evasion” isn’t one person greedily draining the broader society of wealth, it’s just them traveling around their city, which is what the TTC exists to do. If the TTC received 5 times the amount or revenue supposedly lost to “fare evasion” annually, it’d still be critically underfunded! “Fare Evasion” is not the root cause of the TTC’s problem.
Still, we send patrols out because the idea of a poor person getting away with anything is cannot be tolerated.
The TTC is basically broke because unlike any other North American city this size, about 80% of its funding comes from the till box–ie, riders pay for it mostly, not government. Yet the TTC found the money to take out ads to shame and humiliate their own riders and plastered them on TTC vehicles!
Similar ads were on the insides of buses and subways, and the outsides of streetcars.
The outrageous fine for “evading” an outrageously high $3.25 TTC fee is $425 or criminal charges. The smaller the crime, the more it is enforced and the higher the penalty.
When considering this backwards enforcement, is it really coincidence that John Tory, Doug Ford, and Justin Trudeau are more likely to have personal and professional connections with tax evaders than TTC fare evaders?
Look how they chase poor people.
Toronto’s mayor proudly sent fare enforcers on public transit into a global pandemic in March! Imagine paying $3+ to take a shitty public transportation system to a minimum-wage job during a deadly pandemic, hoping nobody is on your bus so you don’t get COVID, and still seeing Fare Enforcers circulate through the system. Public schools are crumbling, hopefully we have enough PPE for frontline healthcare workers, but this we have money for? This is our society?
Our indifference to poor people is evident from the TTC’s “plan” at the time for social distancing, which was this: Fare Enforcers exit the vehicle once 50 people are on board. Can you imagine society risking the lives of wealthy people to ensure financial accountability over any sum of money, never mind $3.25?
Unsurprisingly, a system built on a foundation of violence against poor people is also racist.
Statistically, Fare Enforcers issue tickets disproportionately to Black people. Fare Enforcers assaulted an unarmed Black teenager on a streetcar just down the street from my apartment. The enforcers were found to have committed no wrongdoing, which is not an exoneration of their conduct but a total indictment of the entire system.
Can you even imagine one scenario where an authority would ever physically tackle a tax-evading investment banker, and upon formal review it’d be deemed acceptable?
This charade of enforcement-theatre which lets mega criminality operate freely in broad daylight while violently hounding poor people out of a fake concern for Law and Order is grotesque, yet very typical. Indeed, if you look carefully, you’ll see this underlying dynamic repeated ad infinitum with only minor variations.
If TTC riders face humiliating ad campaigns suggesting they’re criminals and a dedicated team of armed enforcers over $3 fares, what would it look like to see proportionate enforcement against people stealing many, many millions of dollars?
The tax haven class would be cavity searched upon leaving their home in the morning. Growling bloodhounds would bark after them in the street. Billboards targeting the super rich would proclaim, “You unpatriotic dogs think you can swindle Canada? Think again!” and the super rich would be billed for these undermining billboards.
The TTC is a public good that only exists to affordably get people around the city. People have jobs and appointments to get to: The TTC is not there to generate profit, nor should it be!
Comparing the relative treatment of Class Haven Criminals versus TTC riders illustrates clearly that poor people are the ones paying for collective society, that “trickle-down-economics” is BS because in reality the money trickles down to Switzerland or Panama to be privately hoarded.
If our politicians were actually concerned with enforcing the laws on the books evenly and sensibly, rather than waging a war on the poor to benefit their friends and donors, they’d immediately send TTC Fare Enforcers away from public transit and into the Board Rooms, where all the real criminals and “evaders” are.
Lou Borean said:
Great articles! Thank you.
While I agree with the main point of the article on TTC fare evaders, I am pro law and order. I am for following all the rules, rich or poor, and don’t hate seeing some trying to cheat.
“Pro law and order” begs the question of what exactly the law is and what it isn’t. For me, pulling back and looking at the way society turns a blind eye to mega crimes while ruthlessly enforcing teeny ones simply makes no sense and leads to horrible outcomes, and this pattern repeats itself over and over. Put another way, it’s easy to follow laws when you also write them, and easy to be in violation of the laws when you’re excluded from shaping them.