Richard Moore

The subject is Candada, but the story seems to apply to the U.S. and to
most Third-World debt.


by Bob Ewing
American Reporter Correspondent
Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada

                             by Bob Ewing
                    American Reporter Correspondent

        THUNDER BAY, Ont., Canada -- "Canada the Compassionate?"
        Recent events and a review of our social history has revealed the
lie in this oft-heard claim.

        One of the most common untruths that is spread across Canada is
that people, especially employable adults, on welfare or on unemployment
insurance, do not want to work and that it is essential to cut benefits so
that these lazy individuals will be forced to take a job.

        This lie persists even though studies have shown that the vast
majority of social assistance recipients would be willing to take
advantage of any opportunities provided to them to help achieve
self-reliance, without being compelled to do so.

        One of these studies, conducted in 1988 by the Ontario Ministry of
Community and Social Services and readily available in public libraries
across the province, interviewed social assistance recipients -- one of
the few studies to actually do so -- as well as experts and other
stakeholders in the system.

        Yet Ontario, under a premier nicknamed "Newt of the North," has
recently cut welfare by 21.6 percent and justifies this action as being
necessary to urge people to get a job.

        Letters-to-the-editor and opinion pieces in local and national
Canadian newspapers have all blown the welfare crisis horn, claiming
Canada can no longer afford to be generous.

        The current Ontario provincial government came to power on a promise
to cut the provincial deficit (among other things). This is a laudable
goal, yet there is no evidence that supports the concept that welfare
payments have increased the debt load.

        It seems more likely that the people who collect social assistance
are easy targets -- targets who receive little or no compassion from

        In 1991, a book entitled "Tax, Borrow and Spend: Financing Federal
Spending in Canada, 1867-1990 by Irwin Gillespie, demonstrated that debt
creation at the federal level was a result of changes in tax policy, and
specifically a reduction in effective corporate income tax rates, the
proliferation of tax expenditures in the personal income tax base from
1972 to the mid 1980s, and reductions in the effective sales tax rate.

        The reductions in federal revenue lead directly to a reduction in
transfer funds from the federal government to the provinces. This resulted
in a reduction of the funds that the provincial governments had available
to transfer to the municipalities who were responsible for administering
the welfare program.

        Yet, despite this evidence to the contrary and other supportive
facts from Statistics Canada, the federal government's own agency, people,
press and politicians still support policies that operate on the belief
that pressuring welfare recipients will be a factor in relieving the debt.

        If Canada truly was compassionate, would not Canadians stop and ask
themselves, and their politicians, why the people on society's bottom
rungs were there in the first place, and why they were being squeezed to
fix a deficit that they didn't cause?

        As provincial and federal politicians shred the safety net that
supported the notion that Canada was a compassionate country, let us
remember the only reason the net existed in the first place was because
workers united and demanded protection from those who sought to exploit
them.  This protection was hard won. Governments did not take a lead in
preventing the abuse but were forced to take a stand.

        I am currently reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." This work
written in 1906 about the meat packing industry in Chicago is a good
reminder of the past relationship between society and the worker. It could
be our future.


 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 •••@••.•••  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib
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