Letter: Taxpayers watchdog group doesn’t tell whole story on MLA pensions

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Re: Taxpayer watchdog howling over outgoing MLAs’ pension payouts (vicnews.com)

The assertion by the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (CTF), “these pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers,” rankles. I don’t dispute CTF numbers, giving them the benefit of the doubt in making their projections of future payouts.

What I do take issue with is that their claim is made without any discussion of what an affordable pension might be. Compared to what? An owner-operated small business who invests their profits and savings in the stock market and lives off the income when they retire? Top management of large corporations who manage large amounts of money similar to MLAs? If the latter, based on the few individuals I have known who qualify, I suspect the MLA pensions would look modest. Without these kinds of comparisons or benchmarks, the claim is unsupportable.

It is difficult to believe the CTF is merely an economic watchdog without an agenda. The CTF’s very name is a problem, as it implies that we are nothing but one-dimensional sources of money, not multi-dimensional citizens. I am a taxpayer, but it is perhaps the least important part of who I am and CTF does not speak for me.

As a citizen, I have a responsibility to see to the collective well-being of my fellow citizens. The most important way of doing that is through government, because businesses exist, by definition, to make a profit for their owners. Governments cannot function without money and that is raised by taxes, as it always has been.

We should be concerned that our tax money is spent appropriately, including debating what the pensions of politicians (of all stripes) should be, after sacrificing their private lives for public service. But dismissing MLA pensions as not affordable, without any evidence or argument as to what the right level should be, is simply right-wing ideology.

Alex Zimmerman

Victoria