Letters: Governments must control themselves

Provincial politicians tend to be profligate in spending, including on grandiose projects

Dear Editor:

Re: “B.C. back in black, deep in debt” (B.C. Views, Valley Echo, July 30th).

Tom Fletcher’s column on B.C.’s operating budget and debt touches on a balance that must be examined.

Some capital investments are made to reduce operating cost — some of the new building costs at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria does that, for example. Some improve reliability — the earthquake resistant fire hall in View Royal in Greater Victoria for example.

Some add capacity, sometimes to meet demand, sometimes “just because.” In your household, there is a limit based on income. Similarly in business, borrowing has to be paid back. Companies often get into financial trouble from debt, such as the dysfunctional Pacific Western Airlines culture in its expanded life as Canadian Airlines.

Politicians do pay some attention because credit rating agency evaluations increase cost of borrowing. Occasionally, one reforms, as the profligate Bob Rae did in Ontario after getting the province into financial trouble.

Provincial politicians tend to be profligate in spending, including on grandiose projects — Ontario being a current example of huge projects and mismanaged deals that will burden Ontario taxpayers for decades (and the rest of us, because of the federal government’s crazy system of transfer payments that rescue the foolish.) Every election, they try to buy votes by promising the unaffordable.

Governments must cut activities. The B.C. government has not addressed barriers to employment created by its quotas in agriculture and transportation, for example. It continues to spend on handouts to moochers, including companies that won’t invest in their own capability by training employees. And on public relations. As if most voters believe much of it.

At the same time, government must protect against initiation of force. The NDP added an additional cost barrier to individuals seeing justice — court costs. The B.C. “Liberals” have not handled criminals and mentally ill people well, and we can expect from their history of excusing behaviour that the NDP will not when they gain power again.

Voters in B.C. have an opportunity to reduce operational spending by insisting on cutting activities such as interference with honest people’s attempts to build and earn, endless reports, and fancy flower beds. I advocate the savings be put into the reason for government — protecting individuals against initiation of force, which at the municipal level is by policing.

Keith Sketchley