The CBC program The Consumer used to begin with Stompin’ Tom Connors belting out his song of the same name, one line of which went, “We’ll save a lot of money spending money we don’t got.”
Stompin’ Tom’s song referred to our tendency, whenever we see a 20 per cent off sign, to spend money we don’t got to save money on things we don’t need just because it will be regular price next week. Some saving! Talk about sales psychology!
Now imagine our three levels of government in the role of the consumer spending money that we, the taxpayers, don’t got on things we either don’t need at all or exceed what is needed.
Whitehorse city council is raising our taxes again, only a little bit, but by the stealth of a “little bit at a time,” a lot! However, this year’s increment is less than staff suggested so they “saved” us money, eh. But do we need everything the City is spending our money on? Unlikely.
The Yukon government’s new Whistle Bend long-term care facility cost estimate is $147 million for 150 beds/units. That’s about $1 million a piece. Sure, we need it, but a four-bedroom house costs about half of that, so a million dollars per unit seems a bit steep, unless, of course, they come with high-end appliances. But, the original estimate was $158 million, so we “saved” $11 million dollars.
Whatever. I anticipate a long waiting list for those million-dollar units.
When it came to replacing F.H. Collins school our territorial government balked at spending $56 million, wrote off the money already spent, then built a more modest design that still met what we were told was a real need for a final cost of $34 million, so we “saved” $22 million dollars.
City council wants a new city hall and general administration/facilities building estimated to cost $50 million. Seems pricey if we got a new school for $34 million. Are new facilities really needed? Is there a compelling reason to go for gold or would something more modest suffice? But hey, as I recall, part of the reason for the new digs is to save on the cost of heat, maintenance and other operating costs, so I suppose we taxpayers could be thankful that the City is “saving” us money while increasing our taxes to pay for it.
Federally, oddly enough, under the Conservatives the government’s take actually decreased by about $1,000 per person for a real saving of about $4,000 for a family of four, not counting their child benefit program. But “savings” should return to “normal” under our new Liberal administration, as it already seems they are unable to resist the lure of spending money we don’t got on stuff we don’t need.
I like more and better facilities and services as much as anyone, but the never-ending propensity of our various levels of government to mismanage our money, spend beyond what we need, borrow us into an ever-deepening financial hole, and levy more taxes and fees to pay for it bites.