Social programs not to blame for deficit

An alternate view to a common conception of the national debt.

When reading some of the Troy Media pundits in the Trail Times, it seems the national deficit is caused purely by overly generous social programs.

I suppose we’re assumed to have forgotten Enron and Lehman Bros. and the resulting financial catastrophe in
 2008. And never mind the strange coincidence of timing, with that deficit only becoming a major problem after 2008.

It all comes across to me as a mean – spirited attack on the most vulnerable in our society.

Those that are the first to suffer the consequences of the austerity measures are supposed to fix the mess. 
And, of course, we’re also supposed to be completely in the dark about the reported $220 billion of taxpayers’ money spent by the Feds on bailouts – $114 billion to the banks alone – and to corporations, along with generous tax cuts, all, it seems, without any strings attached.

Or if any, extremely flexible ones.

Both Flaherty and Harper have been extremely tight-lipped about the extent of the total and to where it all went. But, as we’ve learned, transparency is not their greatest virtue.

It was left for others, who, after diligent digging, provided us with the figures.

But for now, let’s not ask what and who caused the deficit, but instead try to see the bailouts in a positive light, as a purely economic stimulus.

But the fly in the ointment may well prove to be those flexible strings, consider the following:

GM announced that
 it is to invest $ 850 million in a research and development facility in Ont. – apparently making Harper jump over the moon. But that only after receiving $10.5 billion of taxpayers’ money in 2009. (See the Trail Times, July 26)
Are we now to forget its earlier announcement that it is closing their plant, also in Ontario thereby putting 2000 workers on the street? (As president of the Canadian Labor Congress, what is your take on that Mr. Georgetti?)

All in all, it seems a heck of a deal, and no need to point out for whom.

And as for the bailout money to the banks, after the multi – million dollar salaries and bonuses for the chief executives have been paid; we can only hope that the remainder will be invested in industry to stimulate the economy.

However, the question is: Can they resist the temptation of getting a return of somewhere up to 19.9 per cent by peddling more credit cards rather than perhaps 3 per cent from loans to industry?

Questions that deserve answers before we are to accept the theory that social programs are to blame for the deficit.

Instead, we might well ask, why keep a system that caused vast inequality, with politicians that were already rich when entering office or became rich by working for the rich?

It has been suggested that socialism reinvent itself. I personally don’t think its time has come as yet. As George Monbiot – a well-known British journalist – so succinctly put it; “We have our bread, now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.”

Pondering the above, I can’t help but think of a very different politician from the past; Mel
 Hurtig, who, as leader of the Canadian National Party ran for parliament in 1993 and already at that time proposed major changes to the Canadian banking system. Changes obviously too rich for the palate of those that govern behind the scenes. How else to explain his abrupt departure from politics shortly after.

And yes, I’m well aware that we in Canada are not alone in suffering austerity measures. Many, in countries in the European Union are facing similar hardships.

But remember, they too, have banks.

Peter van Iersel

Fruitvale