By Jennifer Hoegg
What if government left town? That’s the premise behind a potential TV show filming a demo in Kentville this weekend.
Force Four Productions is working on what it calls a “socially transformative documentary series” where a group of residents take their tax money and run their own community.
Acadia political science professor Andrew Biro says life without taxes is more complicated than a TV pitch.
“One of the problems with this kind of experiment … is it seems to thinks about taxes just in terms of fee for service,” Biro said. “For a couple of reasons, it’s a dangerous way to think about taxes.”
He pointed out many of the taxes paid provide social insurance programs – from employment insurance to surgeries.
“Most of the time, they are things (people) don’t use, but the rare times you do need them, it’s really expensive and no one person would be able to afford (the cost),” he added.
Public services, like fire and police, are also paid for through taxes and benefit citizens, whether they call on emergency responders directly or not.
For example, education is a public good paid for through taxes.
“Even if you don’t have kids in the school system,” Biro pointed out, “you still benefit from the fact that society – other people’s kids - are well-educated.”
Taxation also pays for a number of services that aren’t obvious on a daily basis - food inspectors, for instance, or public servants in general, who are contributing to the local economy.
“Government touches on just about every aspect of your life,” Biro said.
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He said he is interested in seeing how the project unfolds.
“For the people involved, does it make them think about taxes in a direct fee for service way?” he asked, adding it could “undermine the social fabric of a community to only think about value for dollar in that direct transaction versus a sense of community and social unity (through) paying taxes.”
Outcomes are unpredictable, Biro noted.
“That’s what makes reality TV compelling.”
Coming to town
Force Four has confirmed a number of events to be featured during the three-day demo shoot.
Kentville’s community development officer Lindsay Young said the visit will include a “combination of private interviews with participants who are going to be on the show and a public event, and it will be some sort of event they would want to film.”
Novak said Force Four wants as many people as possible to come out for the public events, including a pep rally in Centre Square on March 2 at 10 a.m. and a polar bear dip at Memorial Park from noon to 1 p.m. The TV production team is asking participants to bring swimsuits, towels, robes, loofahs and a change of clothes.
Novak said the company is still looking for “passionate, spirited and playful folks to cast in the demo.”
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