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Harper and Flaherty, A Balancing Act

18 June 2011

The above may sound like a third-rate Vaudeville act and, given the state of present day capitalism, it may well be analogous.

The government, the executive committee of the capitalist class, has, in their attempts to administer capitalism, the responsibility of balancing the books by 2014. Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, said they will have to abolish some federal programs to reach their objectives of eliminating the $32 billion annual deficit in the next three years. While this seems very clear, what isn't so clear is exactly how they intend reaching their goal. The Conservative government vaguely states they will be, "conducting a cross-government review in hope of finding savings through efficiencies." The aim is to find what Flaherty termed 'modest' cuts of $4 billion a year out of $80 billion in operational spending. None of this bodes well for the working class who can look forward to more job cuts. Already some government departments, agencies, and museums have been cutting staff.

NDP leader, Jack Layton, summed it up best, "The budget is very vague on where the cuts are going to come from and we are worried they could hit families hard. There are billions of dollars that they are counting on finding by doing these reviews and we worry that some of them could be services that are essential to some Canadians. Layton said he is also worried about lack of action on the environment, unemployment, low- income seniors, Canadians who can't find doctors, and urban problems. Nor is he thrilled that the Conservatives are continuing to phase in $6 billion a year in corporate income tax cuts.

Liberal leader, (and ex-NDP leader) Bob Rae, said he is not optimistic when he sees two members of former Conservative governments in Ontario, Flaherty and Treasury Board President, Tony Clement, in charge of Ottawa's spending. It will be remembered they were part of an Ontario government that cut welfare, set back urban transit, cut hospital funding, undermined social housing, and slashed spending on education. To quote Rae, "When I look at this cutback duo in place, I can't say it leaves me with any great confidence as to the fact of how fair this is going to be." He added that he expects Ottawa's support for affordable housing to be quickly slashed by Clement.

What is inevitable is that the cuts will cause a clash between government and the public sector unions who represent the ten of thousands of government employees whose jobs and benefits are in danger. According to Hassan Yusuff, the secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, " Individual Canadians will suffer if the federal government goes ahead with deep cuts to the public service as we believe they plan to do. It could include airport security, meat inspection, and passport services." Some will, no doubt, take consolation from the fact that Flaherty said they will not raise taxes. Assuming they keep this promise, it means government services will also suffer when one factors in inflation. This is not a problem for the rich who will be able to afford to pay privately for any services they need.

Some left-wing critics this author has spoken to, have responded to the effect that, "Harper and his government have to pay off a deficit. They are not going to take the money they need from the capitalists who have it, because the government represents their interests. So they will introduce austerity measures and take it from the working class." Since the capitalist class own, and therefore control, the organs of propaganda, millions of members of the working class won't want Harper and Flaherty to take the loot from those who have it and support any initiative to cut taxes. They do not realize that taxes must come from profit, not wages. The take-home pay is the only amount that counts for the worker.

We in the Socialist Party of Canada, don't want the capitalists to get Canada out of debt either. It should be obvious, by now, to everyone that as long as capitalism lasts, the above problems will always be with us to one degree or another. We are working for a society where there is no such thing as debt or a capitalist class or a working class to pay for it.

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