BC VIEWS: Time to get smart or go broke

B.C.’s job market held steady in July, with unemployment at 7.3 per cent. The latest Statistics Canada job data were released as global financial markets teetered on the edge of another recession.

Public-sector union members gather at the B.C. legislature in 2005 in support of striking teachers. The BCTF was fined $500

VICTORIA – B.C.’s job market held steady in July, with unemployment at 7.3 per cent. The latest Statistics Canada job data were released as global financial markets teetered on the edge of another recession.

B.C. was last reminded of its vulnerability to world events in late 2008 and early 2009, when financial markets froze up and governments around the world started frantically borrowing to bail out major industries. There are still idle construction cranes around B.C., although the vital commodity markets have recovered.

It was the sickening skid in provincial revenues, which began to reveal itself during the 2009 election campaign, that triggered the B.C. government’s panicked grab for the harmonized sales tax and its transition fund. If blame is important to you, blame Stephen Harper for the HST, but please don’t believe Bill Vander Zalm and the NDP when they claim it was merely a political plot covered up with lies.

The truth is much scarier than the scare tactics of these political opportunists. Globalization isn’t optional, and there are lots of countries out there ready to beat us up and take our lunch money if we give them half a chance.

The Canadian and U.S. central banks have held interest rates near zero since the crisis. If something more goes wrong, they are “out of bullets,” as economists say.

Here’s another economic fact about the year 2011. For the first time in Canadian history, the majority of people with employer-supported pensions now work for government or its agencies, rather than the private sector.

Despite all the political blather about left and right, more spending versus less, government keeps growing. That’s true for Canada and for B.C., where government grew every year of the allegedly tight-fisted reign of Gordon Campbell.

There has been lots of bleating about HST on adult-sized clothing for children. Claiming your hubby’s clothes are actually for a bulky child may be the oldest scam in sales tax evasion.

This is an example of what economists call the paradox of public finance. Economists like consumption taxes because they’re difficult to avoid. Many taxpayers dislike them for the same reason.

This is the road that leads to Greece, where tax evasion is considered a civil right along with fat pay and pensions. The same population expects to go to university at little or no cost until they’re 30, and then retire at 55, with the whole apparatus somehow held up by the dwindling band of workers in between.

The latest contract demands of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation give a sense of their Greece-like isolation from reality. Lengthy paid leaves, yet more paid professional development days, oh, and a double-digit wage increase after the rest of the public service has accepted zero.

I attended the recent BCTF convention in Victoria, where this entitlement culture was on display. During a news conference about the BCTF’s many demands, someone stood behind Education Minister George Abbott and held up a sign for TV cameras that demanded “No Tankers.”

This was no campus radical slipped in from the street. It was a middle-aged BCTF delegate, one of many decrying the industrial economy we need to pay for their pensions.

B.C. aspires to be a shipbuilding economy but it can’t do shipping? According to our public sector union elites, we’re too precious to allow oil tankers in B.C.?

Apparently some have still failed to notice that oil tankers have been going up and down the coast for decades, and back and forth under the Lion’s Gate Bridge for years.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

twitter.com/tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

Municipal watchdog calls Victoria councillors’ request for salary increase ‘boneheaded’

Grumpy Taxpayer$ wish to see reductions in councillor wages to meet local average

Sno’uyutth Day event cancelled

Organizers focused on ‘spreading good energy’ throughout the coming year

Site where rockslide occurred along Malahat is too narrow for rock blasting or drilling: Emcon

‘Rockfalls are inevitable, so we try to increase our response times,’ says representative

Fire at BC Hydro substation extinguished quickly

The fire was contained to one piece of equipment

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperate breeding program

B.C. to more than double sales tax on vaping products

Tax up from 7 to 20 per cent, tobacco tax up two cents

‘Midget’ no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Trans Mountain received $320M in government subsidies in first half 2019: report

The money included $135.8 million in direct subsidies and $183.8 million in indirect subsidies

Student tells B.C. Supreme Court she wasn’t allowed to leave indigenous smudging ceremony

Girl cross-examined Monday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Tuesday

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

Most Read