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Opinion: Bill Walton, Too Much

Tax dollars chasing a technical problem with a financial solution — in a time of too few houses/apartments, too few doctors/nurses, too few workers, and too few parts when you need them

In a time of too few houses/apartments, too few doctors/nurses, too few workers, and too few parts when you need them, in my contrarian way, I am thinking maybe there is too much.

Without sounding like an American Republican, or a Canadian ‘Freedom’ protester, what I am coming to believe is that we are getting too much costly help from our governments. In all fairness, we are the ones asking for more and more, but in the rush to get our votes and approval ratings, our politicians are giving us too much, too quickly. And in their rush to appease us, they are not doing the math – the tax math.

An example of this rush to appease was obvious at the Liberal caucus meeting in London, Ont., this past week. Needing to rebuff Pee Pee’s chants about a lack of housing (and it is real), the host mayor decried the lack of housing in his city. Justin, in a fit of largess, pulled out our wallet and gave the mayor 74 million loonies. "Whoa," said the mayors of every other town in Canada that has a housing shortage – where are our loonies, or even toonies? Justin looked to his deputy and finance boss who shook her head, nay. Oh, we’ll create a task force and come up with a program on housing, which is not our responsibility, but that of the provinces who say it is the municipalities who blame the developers who blame the carpenters, but what the hey.

Meanwhile, as the caucus dined on tasty little finger sandwiches, garlic-stuffed olives, canapes, and Diet Pepsi, MPs of all political stripes were hearing complaints about the ever-increasing cost of putting a peanut butter sandwich on the table. We will summon the grocery moguls to Ottawa (again) and ask for an explanation, the boss says. Too many useless meetings looking for answers to questions that you already, in your heart of hearts, know the answer to. And it is not the cutting of the 4 per cent profit margin the grocery guys and gals are making.

A big part of the problem is the rising cost of getting the food from the farm to the table. Okay, from the soil on the farm or grow op greenhouse to the trucks to the table. And, as the premier of Nova Scotia eloquently put it in a recent interview: it’s that damn carbon tax. Too many tax dollars chasing a technical problem with a financial solution. Carbon credits, with sworn affidavits that the average person will somehow recover more in tax refunds than they pay in taxes. Raise your hand if you believe that one.

Do not get me wrong: we need to get the CO2 under control. The problem is, that even with our off-setting carbon credits and tax-gouging at the pumps, we are not making much progress. Part of the problem is there is too much distance between each of us across this huge country. Well, maybe not in the urban areas, but everywhere else, and it takes fuel, mostly carbon-based now, to get the groceries on the table.

Yes, if you bought it, a truck brought it. Right now, those trucks are using oil-based fuel to move from point A to point B. Adding carbon taxes to that fuel price is a large part of what is causing the current inflation (that’s not a proven rant but just a gut feeling). It used to be that the taxes on gas and diesel were used to build and maintain the roads – the roads needed to get the food and stuff from A to B (to C if you are in Northern Ontario). Too much tax on too few people. We are after all, 40 million souls spread out from sea to sea to sea. Now, with more Hybrids and EVs, we are losing that road tax. By the way, how are these electric vehicle owners paying their fair share for the roads they are using with their heavier cars?

The UN Climate conference in Dubai this fall will point fingers at us for burning a great portion of our forests this year and polluting the atmosphere, but we will promise to get that under control next year or the year after. Maybe we should cut down all the trees around our cities and towns and use the wood to build affordable housing. Strike a committee for that, will you? Oh, and here’s a budget to get you started. No, we are not hiring under-employed beavers.

It is great sport to poke fingers at the feds and their throwing money at problems but closer to home all one needs do is a little research on the GTA Greenbelt and you can quickly see that too much of the costs of those houses proposed to be built on precious arable lands have been allocated to corruption as part of the cost of putting a roof over the heads of the people who cannot afford to live in the remote outskirts of Toronto. Raise your hand if you think no politician pocketed a loonie or two on that smelly deal. Okay, not OUR MPP, but Dougie – com’on.

I will make no mention of our local politicians spending too much money on you know what. However, they may know something about the resurgence of the demand for ice time by the new cohort of young women wanting practice time so they can join the women’s professional teams.  The Return on Investment will equal that of the young men whose parents dream of their child in professional hockey. At least they will be able to afford a home of their own and buy their own groceries.

And so, in a time of too few houses/apartments, too few doctors/nurses, too few workers, and too few parts when you need them, I am thinking maybe there are too many people chasing too few homes, too few doctors and hospital beds, too few daycare spots, too few teachers, school bus drivers, plumbers, electricians, on and on. Maybe, just maybe, there are too many of us. Our endless-growth economy model is outstripping our ability to keep up with inflation and the financial demands we are putting on ourselves.

If I could find the answer to our dilemmas, I would give it freely. In the meantime, let’s think about the issues before we throw money at it and hope it will just go away.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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