In today's Toronto Star, Linda McQuaig takes on the debt-mongers -- provincial and federal. They argue that we can't afford Ontario Place:
Dalton McGuinty’s government tries to convince us we can’t afford to provide this healthy, active recreation for our children for the next five years. Also on the hit list — school playgrounds. Some 600 sites may soon be sold off by the cash-deprived Toronto school board. (Not to worry, there are still malls where our children can hang out.)
Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Harper government has just taken away two years of retirement benefits from millions of Canadians, with its decision to raise the entitlement age (starting in 2023) to 67. Harper never hinted at this major change during the last election campaign, but now insists it’s essential to keep government finances solvent — a claim that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has dismissed as “silly.”
She reminds her readers that there are two kinds of debt -- consumer debt and invested debt. Today's conservatives, who are in the driver's seat, believe that all debt is consumer debt. And, in fact, it was consumer debt -- which they championed -- that got us into this mess. But investing in a nation's people and infrastucture is invested debt. That kind of debt is the antidote for our current malaise. McQuaig reminds her readers that:
It’s worth noting that in 1936, during the height of the Depression, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had the foresight to ignore the debt-mongers and establish a wide-ranging social security system that survives today, providing crucial support to tens of millions of Americans. And Britain, despite record debt levels immediately after World War II, brought in national health care and a comprehensive social insurance system that helped spark the postwar boom.
It's exactly those programs that are now under the gun. Roosevelt called his opponents "economic royalists." Their goal, he undertood quite rightly, was to undermine democracy.