By Medicine Hat News Opinon on October 3, 2019.
If there’s one thing we never grow out of from childhood, it’s our ability to be hardest to please over the things we take for granted.
Most Canadian children wake up knowing hunger will be replaced by food. Child poverty is a real problem, but for analogy purposes let’s all pretend we’ve met a kid who won’t eat anything green, or soft, or funny looking, or new.
Are those complaints even possible without the repetitive guarantee of sustenance? Of course not. Does that child have a clue what kind of effort their parents put in to provide that food? No.
They need food, they get food. Period.
As adults we’re worse. We should all know better, yet we seldom think about the process when that street has a pothole, or that walk-in clinic has an hour wait, or that school is a bus ride away.
We need a paved road, we get a paved road. We need a doctor today, we get a doctor today. We need a school, we get a school. Period.
My wife and I are just as guilty of such things as anyone.
“I can’t believe I waited for 20 minutes when I’d made an appointment.”
“I can’t believe I had to take a different route. I hate construction season!”
We’ve all done it.
We have luxuries in Canada. But we also have rights. And a long time ago Canadians decided health care and education are fundamental rights, and then made the country better in every possible way by ensuring those rights would be so guaranteed, we’d wake up one day among the healthiest and most educated countries on Earth and complain about how we got there.
However, that titanium social safety net also freed certain people to better use our economic system to become wealthy and influential. And now those same people are telling you your social safety net can’t be made of titanium anymore. Now it has to be made of aluminum, or worse. They tell you how it’s still strong and how we just need to do more with less, but it’s weaker and they know it.
Why are they doing this?
Provincial debt, apparently. The government is flat out telling you provincial debt is killing Alberta and, if we don’t do something we will destroy our future. What a crock of …
First off, let me be clear on my opinion. Provincial debt doesn’t matter to you in the least. Like, not even a smidgeon. Don’t believe me? Canadians across every bracket pay less tax percentages than when Canada began a steady increase of annual deficits about 50 years ago, yet here we are $768-billion deep with government spending at an all-time high. What debt from the past are you paying for? What interest are you covering?
None. The only debt that matters to you is your own, and lowering the provincial deficit only to guarantee more money spent by individuals is going to further a personal debt crisis that is a lot more real than whatever Rachel Notley acquired.
And why are Canadians farther and farther in debt? It clearly isn’t the low comparative tax percentages – it’s the low-comparative wages and high-comparative cost of living. The next time your boss talks to you about the value of your work, ask to see a chart showing wages versus productivity over the past 50 years. They won’t show you.
If you want to be mad at deficits, be mad at the right things. If you made the money your productivity is actually worth to your company, we’d have a lot more tax revenue, and we’d all have more money. Except for the corporate rich. Those people will tell you bootstrap hard work got them to that level and that lessening their ability to amass obscene levels of wealth is simply punishment. And they’ll own most of the media, and therefore the message. And they’ll donate to and own the politicians (on both sides), and therefore the policy.
But the truth is, they got where they got with a social safety net they don’t want you to think you can afford anymore. They got there by altering the system through gargantuan tax cuts for themselves, and eliminating countless regulations that were there to protect you. Then they sell you otherwise by pushing a farce that your biggest problem is $60-some billion of state debt that will never actually cost you a dime.
If you won’t vote to change the system to get your money back from the richest among us, who have been effectively stealing from you for decades, then at least make our governments borrow and print more of it out of thin air so you don’t have to fall through a tattered, failed safety net into a sea of drowning personal debt.
Part four of a four-part series
Part two — Privatization tends to drive prices up
Part three — Push for better pay in private sector
(Scott Schmidt is the layout editor at the Medicine Hat News. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)