In response to Jim Bertram’s critique of my last letter: he wonders why I keep criticizing the Conservative Party, and not others. It is simply because, in my opinion, it is the most anti-democratic, anti-social, and anti-environmental Party around, plus they are currently in charge of this province. They also treat everyone like we are just brainless automatons who can be easily manipulated. When they say things like “we are going to cut taxes and put money in your pockets”, many have yet to figure out that they aren’t talking to you and me, but to the rich and powerful, who don’t care a whit about you and I.
Jim then takes umbrage at my observation that he and his Party only see things through a financial lens, then takes two thirds of his letter defending that, thereby proving my point. Jim just dismisses my facts out of hand, while clinging tenaciously to his own, even when his “facts” have been debunked in this newspaper by people who are far more educated than I am. Both he and his Party cling to the same old way of doing things, totally ignoring history and what is happening around them. There is a name for people who keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, but as it is somewhat derogatory, I shall refrain from using it. You get my point, though. I sometimes wonder why I bother with people who are so dogmatic in their beliefs that no amount of evidence to the contrary will change their minds.
Jim also thinks that I should be an equal opportunity critic of other governments. Maybe so, but then this Ford government gives me so much material, it is hard to ignore. As I write, Ford is about to introduce an Omnibus bill, that is yet more slash and burn politics.
Jim, to his credit, encourages me to present an alternative view to both his and the current provincial governments way of thinking, and I appreciate that, though sometimes it gets quite annoying to take the cavalier dismissal of anything that he doesn’t agree with.
He also expects me to criticize other governments, but fails to see the shortcomings in the one that he supports. He wants his cake, and eat it too. While I am not exactly a fan of the Liberal government, it is mostly because they know what to do, but fail to act on it. To be fair, the Conservatives don’t do a lot of these things either, but then, they don’t even play lip service to it. One of the biggest failures of both parties when in government is tax fairness. They both leave in place the tax loopholes that only benefit the rich and corporations, and do nothing about offshore accounts. I have a friend who owns a business, and he once told me “It costs me $100,000 to offshore $1 million, but it is still cheaper than paying taxes”. The lack of any empathy for those less fortunate is astounding. If the rich and corporations were made to pay taxes at the same rate as you and I, and some billionaires have been asking for that, we could fund a lot of social and environmental programs with that money.
We could end tax havens, and have $25 billion in the coffers, close tax loopholes for another $16 billion, and a wealth tax on the 0.1% for a further $5.5 billion. Total, $46.5 billion. So why are we cutting programs? Lastly, why don’t we return to borrowing money from ourselves through the Bank of Canada, instead of through commercial banks? We could set ourselves a really low interest rate, just enough to keep the wheels in motion, and not pay the exorbitant fees that the commercial banks currently charge.
So you see, there are other ways of funding our society and the programs that we need. It doesn’t happen in good part because neither Conservatives nor Liberals, who we keep insisting on electing instead of other parties that subscribe to this, different, way of thinking, are going to do anything that affects their funding base.
I would like to think that this pandemic has laid bare all that is wrong with how we allow ourselves to be governed, and while it is apparent to many of us, I wonder if it is enough to make the changes that we need. The evidence is all around us showing what didn’t work, and we can’t, and shouldn’t, go back to business as usual.
Finally, I have a plea for all of you who don’t vote. Your collective power has the numbers to make the changes that we need. At the next election, please try to ignore the antipathy that you have for all politicians. Yes, I know that some of them have a habit of behaving badly, and that you get the impression that power corrupts everyone when they are in office. You are being played, because that is just what they want you to think. They aren’t all the same. There are some good people out there who deserve your support, and I would encourage you to find out who they are.