Politi­cians pre­tend to care about our kids’ fu­ture

Govern­ments say one thing but their reck­less spend­ing tells an­other tale

Calgary Herald - - OPINION - CHRIS NEL­SON Chris Nel­son is a Cal­gary writer.

When­ever politi­cians talk about our kids’ fu­ture, im­me­di­ately place your hand firmly over your wal­let.

Now I’m sure they care about their own kids well enough and likely a few neph­ews and nieces along the way. And no doubt the older ones prob­a­bly dote on some favoured grand­child.

But it’s this sa­cred in­vo­ca­tion of that col­lec­tive noun, re­fer­ring to those young and yet-to-be-born Cana­di­ans, that should set off alarm bells in our nog­gins and re­sult in an im­me­di­ate re­flex­ive move­ment of a hand to that ex­posed back pocket.

OK, this might seem a tad ob­scure, so let’s serve up a timely ex­am­ple. Please, let’s hear it from the lips of fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna.

She was be­ing in­ter­viewed on CBC and there­fore was suit­ably served up a nice, juicy soft­ball ques­tion about the pos­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing jobs yet pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

McKenna couldn’t wait to wade in. Yes, of course, Cana­di­ans can have both — thereby eat­ing our cake and yet still hav­ing it.

McKenna went on to say we need to get our re­sources to mar­ket (stop laugh­ing — maybe we can re­vert to wheel­bar­rows) but cli­mate change is hav­ing its own im­pact on Canada’s econ­omy. OK, so here it comes.

“We can’t just pass on the costs of cli­mate change to our kids,” she said.

Well, why not?

If the govern­ment was that both­ered about our kids’ col­lec­tive fu­tures, then why in heaven’s name do they con­tinue spend­ing bil­lions upon bil­lions more each year than they take in?

Surely lay­er­ing on more and more debt even when the na­tional econ­omy is sup­pos­edly hum­ming —unem­ploy­ment is at a 40-year low, though it’s hard to re­mem­ber that liv­ing in Cal­gary — is not ex­actly the way to so­lid­ify the eco­nomic fu­ture of these much adored young ’uns.

When the Grits took power, they pledged to bal­ance the bud­get by 2019. Well, that’s out the win­dow. We are spend­ing like a record-break­ing lot­tery win­ner with three months to live. This year’s na­tional deficit will be about $18 bil­lion and we’ll still be in the hole by 2023 to the tune of $12 bil­lion a year. If we fall into re­ces­sion, those num­bers will prob­a­bly dou­ble.

And the feds are hardly alone. The amount of debt our provin­cial govern­ment’s mer­rily rack­ing up is eye­wa­ter­ing. In four years they have over­spent by about $40 bil­lion. Don’t for­get, this is a prov­ince of barely more than four mil­lion souls.

The City of Cal­gary, thank­fully, has lim­its im­posed upon its bor­row­ing, but here too we have grand projects and plans a-plenty that, de­spite an econ­omy stuck in the mud, still suck up dough faster than the speed of any pru­dent thought.

But ask them all why they do this and in­vari­ably those chil­dren will be trot­ted out as some won­der­ful ex­cuse. All we need is Beethoven’s Ode To Joy play­ing some­where softly in the back­ground and we’d be fo­cus­ing through tears while writ­ing an­other cheque.

It is ut­ter garbage. This end­less and reck­less spend­ing has noth­ing to do with fu­ture gen­er­a­tions but every­thing to do with us.

Our par­ents and grand­par­ents could say those words and mean them. Many had em­i­grated and then bro­ken raw land on the cold prairie; they lived through de­pres­sions and fought for their new coun­try through two world wars. They re­lied on them­selves and their com­mu­nity of neigh­bours and didn’t run bleat­ing for the govern­ment to fix any mi­nor in­con­ve­nience.

We are still liv­ing high on the hog off their sacri­fice and hard work. Of course, we care about our own kids, but build­ing a na­tion for a fu­ture gen­er­a­tion through our own sacri­fice? Come on: what a laugh. The truth is we’ve used up our fore­bears’ sacri­fice and their banked credit.

But not con­tent with that, we are now draw­ing down on the fu­ture ac­count of those yet to come.

Worse yet, we use them as both ex­cuse and rea­son for our own self­ish­ness.

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