This writer prefers user-pay method

Dear editor,

Perhaps, the time has come to consider a user-pay economic model rather than the pseudo-idealistic model that has seeped into our collective consciousness.

This is not a new concept and it is more akin to a realistic free enterprise system than it is to an idealistic communal system.

In the most simplistic terms; if you want to use a service or you need to use a service you pay for that service and don’t ask everyone else to subsidize your wants and needs.

The recent public angst involving BC Ferries comes to mind.

I live on Vancouver Island because it is my choice of lifestyle. If I want to live here but need to work on the mainland, that is my choice and my problem; not yours.

If you want to live on Denman Island; that is your choice so don’t ask me to subsidize the cost of your transportation. Furthermore, if your community does not want a cable ferry, than your community needs to pony up the costs to pay for a ferry that your community wants.

I don’t like to pay taxes, especially income tax that punishes productivity and rewards the opposite. But, if I must pay tax, I prefer a user-pay tax like GST and HST where the more that I can afford to consume, the more that I contribute to the required government coffers. And, if I can afford to or choose to consume only what I need, then I pay less tax.

I like tolls on transportation and am disappointed that the government went ahead and removed the token $10 toll on the Coquihalla Highway.

That little $10 fee saved me $50 in fuel costs, not to mention wear and tear on my vehicle, every time I needed to travel to the Interior. Not only did that toll pay for the capital cost of the project itself, it could have continued to pay for maintenance and improvement.

Now, everyone’s taxes need to be increased to cover those costs.

Frankly, I would support a toll on more highways for the same reason including our own Inland Highway on Vancouver Island.

A problem with tolls is that no one wants to pay.

We see in Vancouver that tolls on the new Port Mann Bridge has diverted increased traffic over the Pattullo Bridge, much to the consternation of the affected residents.

My response would be to equally toll the Pattullo Bridge because it requires maintenance and it, too, will eventually need to be replaced. The choice should be for users to pay for those bridges rather than to make everyone pay, including those who will never use it.

The user-pay debate can be applied to almost every service provided by our elected governments. Education and health care come to mind, as they are the most expensive items on our social menu.

Certainly, a healthy, well-educated population contributes to our society as a whole but should everyone pay for it or should users pick up a fair share of the tab? I resent having to contribute to the care of individuals who have chosen to destroy their health with tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

And I resent having to pay for the myriad of unnecessary procedures that a socialized health care system provides. I resent having to continue to support a mediocre educational system long after my own children are grown.

There is much advantage to two tiered systems but that is a debate for another day.

As it stands, everyone wants someone else to pay. The human animal has become so increasingly self-centred that it has come to believe and indeed expects, that the community as a whole owes it any number of goods and services.

As witnessed by the last succession provincial and federal budgets, the cost of having someone else pay has reached unsustainable proportions and we all need to start to understand where it will lead.

History is replete with examples — the fall of the Egyptian and Roman empires being two of the best and Greece being the most recent.

It is no historical coincidence that the more affluent a society becomes, the more socialistic that its constituents become and the more readily they will neglect their personal responsibilities and delegate them to their communal authorities; that is, to their governments.

And it is also no historical coincidence that the longer this prevails, the sooner the society collapses under its own largesse. If nothing else, a user-pay society helps to maintain individual responsibility for personal consumption and reduces the reliance and expectation that someone else will pay.

Gary Hein,



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