(ST MARYS, December 1995) - In support of what might be termed a dose of political "tough love," Freedom Party Perth constituency Association president Robert Smink targeted his editorial (reproduced below) specifically to those caught in the mindset of the poverty trap. Smink's support of the Harris government's spending cuts was, in part, based on his understanding that the very people who see themselves being hurt by the cuts are the ones who stand to gain the most by them. However, unless personal responsibility and initiative are exercised, the odds of gaining by the cuts are proportionately diminished. Holding the "poor" accountable for their own situation in life has become politically incorrect. As a consequence, such viewpoints are highly controversial and subject those expressing them to charges of being uncaring or unsympathetic. Evidence is abundant, however, that welfare entitlements do little but INCREASE the ranks of the "poor". Rather than becoming independent and self-supporting, many welfare recipients become dependent and then begin to view any cuts to their entitlements as cruel and uncaring. This same theme was expressed by Fp leader Jack Plant in an editorial published in the London Free Press on November 18, 1995.
By Robert Smink
In Canada today, despite the years of misdirected efforts of poverty activists, we still have enough political, economic and social freedom left to provide all the fundamental ingredients required to foster prosperity.
The way I see it, if you're poor in this country, it's nature's way of telling you that you're doing something wrong.
If you consider yourself 'poor' you should change the way you're doing things instead of blaming the 'rich' or 'society' for your problems. No one on this planet owes anyone else a living. It has to be earned. Throwing money at poverty has never and will never solve the problem. Extorting tax dollars 'to redistribute the wealth' is even worse.
Untold billions have been spent in trying to eradicate poverty in this country in the last 30 years. Yet, according to statistics and the left itself, today we have more unemployed and people on social assistance, in short, a much larger percentage of 'poor' people than at any time in our history. One must conclude then, that most of these social engineering programs are not only extremely costly, but also counterproductive, a tangible example of the old adage, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.'
Governments cannot legislate people out of poverty. If they could, every third world country would simply pass laws proclaiming that everyone have a new home, a car, three meals a day and presto, it would be so. It hasn't been done because, as our example illustrates, it cannot be done and so it should not continually be attempted.
It isn't enough for them that governments already take more than 54 per cent of the average person's income in various taxes each year. Penalizing the productive and rewarding the unproductive is a sure recipe for disaster, as a yearly $10 billion-plus provincial deficits attest to.
For over 500 years, since its discovery, the country that eventually became Canada did very well thank you without all the government sponsored social engineering programs. This relative period of freedom (up to the Pierre Trudeau era) is what actually created the infrastructure, wealth and general prosperity which we are now plundering and squandering in the quest for 'equality' - equality of result instead of equality of opportunity.
Modern taxation really began in 1917 as a temporary wartime measure. An income tax of 2 per cent was introduced. If the present rate of escalating taxation continues, it will take less than 40 years until we pay 100 per cent of our incomes to government. Then, I suppose, no matter the individual's effort, we'll all get a guaranteed minimum income and we'll finally have the equalitarian nirvana that all the freeloaders and socialists dream of.
The new altruistic philosophy promoted by the left and socialists of today is 'to each according to his need'. Not only doesn't it work, but it is immoral. People run to the government for help. As a result, the government is huge and expensive, taxes are outrageously high and deficits are astronomical. Families are expendable, and dependance on government has become acceptable.
While this philosophy is dragging us into the muck of mediocrity, let us recall that people accommodate themselves to poverty in this country by their own free will. People generally choose the economic level they'll accept. You are constantly and daily in the process of schooling yourself to accept the level of prosperity you have, or you are exerting extra effort to get more.
Poverty activists like John Clarke of the Union of Unemployed Workers keep trying to perpetuate the myth that 'poverty is a crime perpetrated on the innocent and the weak'. A crime perpetrated by whom? If there is a crime, why aren't the police laying charges? These people don't realize that money doesn't grow on government trees and that someone else has to go out and produce the wealth that they feel entitled to.
Actually, the social activist's ideas of poverty are laughable. They should visit India, Nigeria or any of a number of third world countries to see real poverty. Some of these countries have net per capita incomes of less than $300 per year.
If you don't have the burning desire to better your life (and I don't mean getting more government handouts for less effort) you're cheating yourself and your loved ones with phoney excuses. You are choosing a level of life that's poor compared to what you could have with the extra exertion of which you are capable. It's all on your shoulders and there's no way you can shift any of the responsibility.
Unless you do this and start operating at your full potential you'll never reach the quality of life within your reach, and which you desire.
For example, out of a total of $1.9 billion in Harris' first round of cuts, only $167 million, or a paltry 11.4% was cut from the community and social services sector. Yet daily most media coverage is dedicated to the impact on social services while little is presented to balance this reporting by mentioning offsetting benefits in any other areas.
Every person I've spoken to is extremely happy with the cuts. Most of the comments are 'It's about time' and 'It's nice to see a politician who follows through on his promises'. It's no surprise that Harris is more popular now with the voting taxpayers than he was when elected.
There is something to be said for 'tough love', especially in the political arena. Before the 1960s it was the predominant moral philosophy of this nation and it produced levels of poverty and unemployment that were much lower than they are today.
To a majority of Ontarians, Mr. Harris is becoming a hero, because he has stuck to his commitment to cut government spending and paternalism. People shouldn't be throwing eggs at him, they should be throwing roses.
Robert Smink is a London businessman and was Freedom Party's candidate during the last provincial election in Perth. He has an honours degree in philosophy and history from the University of Waterloo.
last updated on April 28, 2002