The Nerve Of The Guy

In nixing hopes for the province to start living up to its obligations and resume funding of half the TTC’s yearly operating budget, Premier Dalton McGuinty said this: “We’d always love to be able to do more whether it’s transit or health care or education and the like but you’ve got to live within your means according to the circumstances for the time.”

Does the premier exist in an irony-free bubble? The dude is overseeing a record setting $20 billion+ provincial deficit and he’s got the balls to go around pontificating about living within your means? How does he do that while maintaining a straight face?

Normally I wouldn’t chide a politician for running a deficit, even an unprecedentedly large one, during the kind of economic times we have seen over the last 18 months. It’s classic Keynesian counter-cyclical spending. Increase it during an economic downturn; decrease it when things turn around. Any deficit you incur can then be paid down when revenues start rolling back in with the burgeoning economy.

But to have the temerity to muse aloud about frugality in others, especially when it comes to a municipal government that just balanced its budget because the province mandates that municipalities must balance their budgets regardless of the economic situation, is simply beyond the pale. It’s like some profligate, drunken, deadbeat dad who comes up short once again with his child support payments, telling the ex-wife and kids that they’ll just have to suck it up and tighten their belts to get by. I’d always love to be able to do more, he slurs. Help you pay the rent, buy groceries and a new pair of shoes for the kids but, hey, you’ve got to live within your means according to the circumstances for the time.

Oh, that’s alright, dad. It’s the thought that counts.

Well fuck you, Premier Dalton McGuinty, you hypocritical, patronizing prick.

Let me remind you again that the TTC funding you can’t seem to come up with is not even yours in the first place to withhold or bequeath whenever you see fit. It is an arrangement that’s been in place since before you were even born and only came to an end with the slash and burn ethos of your predecessor’s predecessor in the late 90s. It is an agreement that you promised to reinstate when you took office in 2003. It is a debt you owe not some gift you can generously bestow. So stop acting like we’re asking you for some favour. We’re not. We’re simply suggesting you stop welching on a deal.

And local politicians already in office and those out campaigning for a spot in the fall? Stop enabling the premier, helping him tar the city you are supposed to be serving. Cowboy up, as they say, and make a stand. Call the premier out for not holding up his end of the bargain and demand that he start doing the right, honorable thing.

blood boilingly submitted by Cityslikr

Toronto Sun Hates Half Its Name

City begs province for more daycare cash, goes the title of a Toronto Sun story this past weekend. The city is going hat in hand to the province, the Sun continues, blah, blah, blah, followed, of course, by a litany of boneheaded comments from readers, who obviously, could’ve benefited themselves from a few years of early education.

**sigh**

If the Sun was trying to be factual with this, the article should’ve read: Cash strapped city demands province start paying its fair share of daycare funding. Using the word ‘beg’ and the phrase ‘going hat in hand’ denotes dissoluteness, irresponsibility, a lack of character and profligacy with money. Like that inveterate gambler of an uncle who uses his infrequent winnings to get drunk.

As city council begins the 2010 operating budget process next month, we’re going to be hearing a lot about possible cuts to services, increases in taxes and user fees, whopping great shortfalls. Already estimates are being made in the $300-500 million range. And yes, the province is going to be asked to chip in and contribute.

Wastefulness on the city’s part? A lack of having their financial house in order? Hardly.

You see, of the 3 levels of government we have plying their trade, only at the municipal level are they legally unable to run an annual operating budget deficit. Who mandated this? Their overlords in the provincial legislature, of course, who by my latest tabulations (sound of me slapping away on the keys of a calculator) projected a $14.1 billion deficit last year. “A deficit is not something that we take lightly,” said provincial finance minister Dwight Duncan in March. “It is, however, a necessity in these challenging times.

A case of do as I say not as I do, it seems; paternalism that lies at the heart of municipal-provincial relations. It is also your trickle down neo-liberalism on display. In order to clean up their books, top level of senior government cuts transfer payments to the next level of senior government. That level of senior government not only makes cuts of their own but then offloads services to the lowest level of government (municipalities if you’re having trouble following) minus the corresponding dollars to finance them. Without the regulatory or revenue powers to accommodate their new obligations (or to deficit spend when necessary), cities are left holding the bag to face an angry public with news of cuts in services and/or tax/user fee increases.

So yes, Toronto Sun, the city is begging the province with hat in hand for more money but maybe a little perspective is in order. Indulging in the family member analogy once more, the provincial government is like a deadbeat dad. After refusing to pay for their kid’s upbringing for nearly a decade, they’ve finally been forced to cough up some dough which they’ve done reluctantly and almost always with a patting of their pants pockets, a shrug and a dismissive we’re a bit strapped at the moment.

That’s unfortunate but what do we tell the children?

censoriously submitted by Cityslikr