Jasmine Pickel is an entrepreneur and the Interim Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Our politicians are addicted to spending. Even though they speak poetically about their good intentions and virtue signal whilst cheque-signing on our behalf, much of that spending is wasteful and sinks us further into debt.
Here are five phrases that usually indicate that a politician is about to waste your money.
1) Politicians will say they’re “investing”
When politicians say they’re investing government money, what they really mean is that they’re spending taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, politicians at all levels of government in this country have a poor track record in this regard.
In Newfoundland, the government lost $260,000 when it tried to operate a Tim Hortons. Likewise, the Ontario government lost $42 million trying to sell marijuana.
Given that governments can’t make money selling double-doubles or weed brownies, they should let taxpayers keep more of their own money to invest it themselves.
2) “It’s not a spending problem–it’s a revenue problem!”
Imagine saying that in the context of your own life – that it’s not your fault you spent so much, it’s just that your job doesn’t pay what you’d like to spend. Unfortunately, our politicians just keep adding to our credit card bill.
A recent Ontario government report shows why it is in fact a spending problem. It found that Ontario would have spent $330 billion less in the 15-year period the former Liberal government was in power if it had simply kept spending in line with population growth.
Instead, spending increased in real terms by $2,200 per person, and now Ontario’s debt has surpassed $350 billion, making the province the largest subnational debtor on the planet.
Politicians love painting deficits as a revenue problem so they can raise taxes. Don’t fall for it. Tell politicians to manage their own budgets instead of taking more out of yours.
3) Politicians say they’re spending to “help the middle class”
While big government apologists like to pretend all of our tax dollars go toward vital services such as health care and education, the reality is that politicians will often take tax money from hard working Canadians to hand it over to large, profitable corporations.
Take for example the $12 million the Trudeau government gave to Loblaws to buy more energy efficient fridges (even though the company posted net earnings exceeding $800 million that fiscal year). That’s nothing in comparison to the $4 billion of taxpayer money that has been given to Bombardier though, a company owned by one of Canada’s wealthiest families worth close to $3 billion.
Taxes are the single largest expense for most Canadians, taking up approximately 45 percent of the average Canadian’s annual household income. If politicians really wanted to help the middle class, they’d stop giving corporate welfare handouts and instead lower our taxes.
4) Politicians justify their overspending by saying they’re on “a responsible path to budgetary balance”
Translation: “We’re going to keep adding to the debt for the next few years at least.” There’s simply nothing responsible about overspending, especially in good economic times.
In fact, it’s very irresponsible for politicians to ignore the opportunity costs of running up large debts. For example, this year Ontario will spend about $13 billion on interest payments. That’s more money than it will spend on colleges and universities put together!
Politicians should stop making excuses as to why they can’t balance budgets, and they should start paying down the debt.
5) Politicians say “we can keep spending as long as the debt-to-GDP ratio stays in check”
Although this is a favourite excuse used by our current prime minister, the reality is that this economic ratio isn’t reliable. For example, if Canada were to encounter tough economic times and our debt were to increase more sharply than planned, the ratio would be thrown out of whack. All of a sudden, we’d be in a position where we’d be saying “wow, we really need to pay down debt, but now we’re not in a financial position to do so.”
Conversely, even if our GDP were to increase sharply thereby lowering the ratio relative to our G7 counterparts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more spending is justifiable or a good idea.
Canadians live within their means. It’s time our politicians followed suit.