People are careless with other people’s money. This unfortunate description of human behaviour is particularly true of politicians seeking to buy our votes.
Recent letters to the editor focus on comparisons between Pierre Trudeau and Stephen Harper. The former was our country’s biggest all-time spender while the latter proved to be conscious of the deleterious effect of public debt.
One of the previous letters articulated deficit spending by comparing dollars without regard to inflation: an unfair depiction. Pierre Trudeau increased our national debt during his tenure by 560 per cent while Harper’s tenure resulted in a 26 per cent increase.
Debt drives up costs and, therefore, comparing the cost of living – Consumer Price Index (CPI) – provides a more meaningful comparison. CPI increases during the Trudeau era averaged nearly 10 per cent per annum whereas it averaged less than two per cent per annum during the Harper decade. In the final years of their leadership, personal bankruptcies during Trudeau’s reign was three times greater.
Now another PM Trudeau is currying favour by promising to spend our money, carelessly. His election promise of a $10 billion deficit is now being hushed and replaced with whispers of $40 billion. Do we really want a return to massive increases to our cost of living?
We may cringe these days at prices in our grocery stores, but many of us recall an era when mortgage rates rose to more than 20 per cent. How many families can endure a hike in mortgage rates?
There is only one way to hold politicians accountable. Annually, when they overspend, the first dollar is subtracted from their salary, up to 25 per cent. Personal experience with this approach proved a deterrent to politicians’ careless regard for people’s money.