Once upon a time, government budgets were straightforward bookkeeping exercises, detailing revenues and expenditures. By the late 1930s under the persuasive influence of British economic guru John Maynard Keynes, fiscal policy spread to Canada—the concept that economic outcomes could be finessed by shifting tax incidence or by kick-starting spending initiatives. That notion has come to dominate budgetary exercises, but, even into the 1960s, budgets were still simple exercises introduced through speeches delivered in the House of Commons.
Things are different now, but the interventionist belief that fiscal manoeuvring can magically impact economic prospects continues—with the result that each budget contains a new quiver of tax and expenditure measures designed to influence spending decisions. Many issues arise from this approach.
In Do it yourself budgeting, McIver discusses the evasion of responsibility by governments trying to shift the tough economic burden of how to resolve existing debts by making decisions appear like popular choice. He suggests that substantial budgetary reform is necessary to remedy many of our economic issues. This kind of change requires commitment on the part of all levels of government.
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