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Cutbacks will ruin economy

Reprinted with permission from the Kingston Whig-Standard, December 19, 1995

I am writing to comment on the letter from the Ontario Association of Social Workers that appeared in The Whig-Standard ("Don't ignore those who are hungry," Dec. 1).

Winter has begun early this year, and it looks as if nature is going to give us a long, hard season. We cannot do much to alter that. But we must, as concerned citizens, do what we can to help out with the terrible problems of cold and hunger that will be experienced by many of our fellow Kingstonians, and to this end I endorse the fullest possible support of the food bank.

But we must understand that the larger issue is an economic and political one. Do not assume that there is sound economic theory underlying the Harris government's cutbacks, and that the father (in the shape of Mike Harris and his advisors) knows best.

The best way to simulate an economy is to make sure that as much money as possible is placed in the hands of the least well-off, who will spend it on goods and services. The sellers of these goods and services will immediately spend what they take in on other goods and services, and so on. Money would circulate rapidly, creating jobs and prosperity in its wake.

I think that money in the pockets of the wealthy stays in those pockets, or, at best, is invested for profit, with a supposed trickle-down effect that has always been extremely slow and uncertain; all the more so now because large corporations are committed to investing in technology rather than in job creation, and because so much money moves in a world of its own, enriching speculators but employing no one. Small businesses, now given such a hard time by government and the banks, are the best providers of jobs.

Cutting taxes to the better-off, at the expense of the poor, may enrich Mike Harris and some of his supporters, but even they would do well to take a second look and put the brakes on before the economy is destroyed, along with the compassionate social system in which we so rightly take pride.

Perhaps we should at least match our food bank donations to political agencies (such as the Council of Canadians) and a political party (such as the NDP) that are at least working towards a more realistic understanding of economics than the parties currently in power in Ottawa and Queen's Park.


Jo Vellacott