Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Common Sense Revolution Redux ( A.K.A. Tiny Tim Roars)

H/t Theo Moudakis

If you have resided in Ontario for some years, and were of a certain age when Ontario's Common Sense Revolution was conducted by Mike 'The Knife' Harris, you will recall it was a time of great upheaval that, contrary to the mythologizing that the right-wing so much enjoys fabricating, left the bulk of Ontarians worse off.

It was a time of job cuts, dissension, the sowing of hatred against various groups that fell into Harris' crosshairs, monumental downloading of provincial responsibilities to municipalities for which property owners are still paying dearly in their tax bills, the selling off of Highway 407 to cover fiscal ineptitude and balance the books, etc. etc. And yet, Harris was wielding a mere hatchet in his reductionist zeal compared to the battle axe that his acolyte, young Tim Hudak, plans to use should he win the election.

With the magical thinking so favoured by the extreme right, Hudak says that to balance the budget he will slash 100,000 public sector jobs out of whose ashes, along with more corporate tax cuts, will emerge one million 'good-paying jobs.' Forget for a moment that both strategies has been amply discredited and look closer at the numbers.

In a piece in today's Star, Kaylie Tiessen and Kayle Hatt analyse what will be involved in these cuts:

Statistics Canada indicates there were 88,483 Ontario public servants in the general government category in 2012, the most recent year of data available.

This includes the core public service, agencies, boards and commissions (such as Metrolinx, the Ontario Municipal Board, the Niagara Falls Bridge authority and several hundred other organizations), provincial police and judicial employees.

Eliminating 100,000 jobs would amount to 15.3 per cent of Ontario’s provincial public servants — 1.5 per cent of the total jobs in Ontario.

And this means the broader public service, including those involved in public education and health care, and would likely range from teachers, educational assistants, community home-care providers, nurses, etc.

The writers also make a point that Hudak conveniently chooses to ignore: the multiplier effect:

The federal ministry of finance estimates the multiplier effect of government spending is approximately 1.5. That means every dollar the government spends generates an additional 50 cents in economic activity through increased consumer spending, business activity and other second order effects.

Using that multiplier, we estimate the impact of cutting 100,000 good jobs out of Ontario’s economy would result in the loss of an additional 50,000 private sector jobs — because those who used to be employed in the public sector would no longer have the money they need to participate in the local economy, go to movies, eat at local restaurants and shop in local stores.

Essentially, the boy who would be premier demands that we bow at the twin altars of austerity and corporate tax reduction. Hudak tells us that it will be good for all of us, although it is truly difficult to discern any beneficiaries in this mad gambit.

The more people who understand these facts, one hopes, the less support Hudak's demented vision will receive on June 12.

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