LETTERS: Affordability a prime concern


On a side trip to White Rock – where I lived for 20 years from the late-’60s thru the ’80s – I was interested to see in Thursday's Peace Arch News the “same old, same old” issues affecting folks in 2014 as they did back in the day.

School board budget deficits; municipal workers’ strike for a better compensation package; teacher bargaining impasse over salaries and working conditions…

Now, whether it’s health, education, welfare, transit or any other public-purse expense, it’s the taxpayers’ ability to pay that must drive debate.

As ever, all public revenue comes first and foremost from the sale of goods and services to willing purchasers – e.g. school districts selling classroom seats to offshore families willing to pay beaucoup tuition for their billeted children.

Or it could be coal. Or LNG. Or wood. Or tourism.

Only after the purchase of something of value do taxation pools from income, GST and/or real estate taxes arise as a secondary revenue source. Thus, if commercial sales of goods and services do not keep pace with public-sector spending demands, there must be a reckoning of priorities; if more for education then perhaps less for health or social services and maybe less still for transportation and/or a reduction in capital project investments.

Either those kinds of priority choices, or the government must mortgage the province by borrowing money and generating downstream debt-loads for our children and our children’s children and so on, for generations to come.

The solution to White Rock’s civic-worker problems or the school district’s budget/teacher compensation problems is not a simple “Throw money at it to make it stop!” as some suggest. The only truly relevant question that must be answered first is “Where does the money come from?” Followed by “How?” Followed by “Why?”

Triangulating any of the noted issues in this way for public debate is the only way to achieve insight and discernment at what the appropriate answers might be.

And that’s what we collectively elect our legislatures, councils and boards to do on our behalf. May they ever act wisely and discreetly in how they spend the money we taxpayers give them in trust.

W. Baird Blackstone, Tsawwassen



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