KAMLOOPS — If the provincial and federal budgets released over the past month are any indication, those on fixed or limited income have no hope of ever getting their heads above water. I honestly don’t know how we deal with the financial crises we face as a country. While some, such as B.C.’s budget, involve a surplus, most forecast dire deficits. Alberta and Saskatchewan joined the federal governments in dealing with significant deficits. We can’t seem to spend within our means.
And yet even when deficit budgets come down, meaning tax increases for many, people are still screaming for more. They want more for childcare, they want more for the less fortunate, they want more money to have a better life. How can we do that? Where do you draw the line? I’m glad I’m not in government. It’s an almost impossible thing to resolve. Do we spend more on infrastructure? How do we pay for that new transit link? Higher taxes? Or operate at a deficit? How do we pay for the new sewer system in the city? How do we fix those roads? We want the work done, but we don’t want the responsibility of paying for it.
And for many, how can they afford to pay for it? Seniors and those on assistance cannot afford to shell out more money. How do we find the money to pay for a better health care system, or more teachers? Those wanting the money don’t have any idea. They only care that they get it, not how it’s funded. Pretty shortsighted approach.
What if we made all forms of government operate like school boards, where they have to operate on a balanced budget? That would sure create an interesting conundrum. Government parties wouldn’t be able to shell out big grants that would create a deficit. Opposition parties wouldn’t be able to promise the moon because they know they would be held accountable if they got into office. Sadly, it’s easy to raise taxes, it’s easy to raise employment insurance premiums, or the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. It’s easy to raise income tax amounts, or jump the cost for travel.
No one, of course, wants to cut services. People wouldn’t understand that concept. So we just go on spending, forgetting that at some point you can no longer rob Peter to pay Paul.
And that, my friends, is when we might finally start to come to grips with the ongoing spending spiral that is pushing our economy to the brink of the cliff. If we don’t want to fall over that cliff, we really have to start doing better. Unfortunately, no one wants to take on that responsibility.