Why is Canada turning blue you might ask. The answer is, a myriad of reasons some valid some not. If you think by voting Conservative, Liberal, NDP or even Green and there will be a marked long term improvement think again.
The feeling is, hard working people go to work and pay the taxes so others can sit about on the social safety net and do nothing. There is a bit of that but that isn’t the biggest problem. We have any number of corporations that pay no tax at all. In fact some make several billion in profit and get multimillion dollar tax refunds.
It’s not a question of how much they pay in tax it is why do they pay nothing? Should we concentrate our anger on the poor on the safety net while excusing millionaires and billionaires from contributing?
We are also victims of our own making. When many of these programs started they were for short term measures. The last three generation don’t even know about the Great Depression let alone understand it. Let us engage in a simplistic lesson to illustrate why we have social programs. The Great Depression started in 1929 and lasted up to the eve of the second world war in 1939. The truth is as bad as it was, it hit twenty five to thirty percent of the population primarily working people, the middle class, and those on the margins of society. Not everyone was hurt equally as history suggests. Rural citizens had a place to grow food and so on. They didn’t have cash. There were many with investments who went from riches or comfort to rags over night. Circumstance was different for everyone.
As a comparison to today it would be worse, due to debt accumulated.
Something like seventy percent would be effected. In the past decade several financial publications have warned how unprepared we are as a society if there was to be a prolonged crash. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water just yet by slashing programs.
These programs were not just handed out either. They were often as not fought for in the streets. Governments feared the marches, and events like the Winnipeg Riot and others, and might in fact bring chaos to the country. The examples were evident. There was the Russian Revelation and the food riots in Germany when those economies collapsed only ten years before.
The truth is our leaders have no vision and some don’t even understand there is a problem. Society had problems when the Industrial Revelation came to be. For a short period there was mass unemployment followed by a boom as employees were trained for the jobs. Social problems soon erupted in the form of low wages and health issues. Laws were inadequate to deal with the changing society. Long term employment was created after two world wars and the great depression. Problems solved.
Enter the information age, the computer and internet age, enter the speed of technological advancement. We are overpowered by life of our own making. Food banks were created to help people over a short term mini depression, and have lived on because you and I support them and in so doing allow business to pay low wages. Combine that with part time work in sectors of the economy, part time without benefits and we devised a system where the working poor can’t afford the jobs being offered. The cry is raise the minimum wage. No if you do that the cost of goods and services rise to overcome the wages paid. What needs to happen is we as a society have to value entry level workers and take less of a profit margin. It would also mean more money for workers and less in bonuses for the top end. We have also by neglect turned the clock back to that simpler time that never existed.
There are any number of well paying jobs out there but we never took a proactive stance to retrain workers over time to do them, in turn we out priced the cost of education to the point where our own educational institutions bring in foreign students because our own young people can’t afford to go.
The advance of technology and progress has outpaced the legal system to regulate a measure of fairness. We have not taken into account the aging population issue either. We have seen entire industries go obsolete and we retrain people who are fifty or sixty years old to change a career knowing they will retire in five to seven years. We are finding children becoming adults still living at home in their thirties and longer. Why? Many are burdened with debt, even student debt. They are working two and three part time jobs with low wages and no benefits. We even have a label for them. The Working Poor.
It should be noted we were warned of this decades ago by a guy named Tommy Douglas. He introduced the ideas of medicare, pensions, family allowance, and so on. They came about when the Liberals had minority rule and we still have the programs we invested in today. The problem is collective governments spent the accrued assets on roads and infrastructure and never replaced the fund assets. The only governing body to do so was Quebec which does not have a shortfall in entitlement programs to the extent we do.
Casting blame and pointing fingers is only useful if there are better ideas for today s solutions. What if, instead of spending money retraining those about to retire by age, we instituted a guaranteed annual income pegged above the poverty line. We could stop wasting money on those on the margins of society and use the guaranteed annual income for them too.
At the same time we put training money into eager youth to be there for tomorrow’s workforce. Yes, no matter how you slice or dice it it is going to cost money. Think of it this way. If we train people who can’t be trained long term to hold the job they are training for and when they fail they go back to the safety net we have paid twice.
Go with an income. Train or retrain only those who have the capability to do the jobs of tomorrow. At the same time start to retool the social safety net for the twenty first century. It took three generations to get where we are and it will take time to fix it. Short circuiting it with draconian cuts will lead to more dysfunction more drug use ans stress people can’t cope with. The truth is we have a myriad of social problems because there was no plan to deal with the root causes and society treated the symptoms instead.
Before we take the box cutter to social programs think about the words of John F Kennedy “If we cannot help the many who are poor, we cannot save the few who are rich.”