Debt, like drinking alcohol, is one of those topics we normally avoid talking about until it gets out of control. While we think we’re fantastically charismatic when drunk, most of us are far from charming. (Well, that and Canada’s financial health is just as watered-down and over-valued as a pint of pub beer.)
Lately, government officials have started to communicate sentiments that provincial and national debt as something consumers should be comfortable with and tolerate. We’re told to take these debts in stride without question.
If ordinary citizens tried explaining away our debts like governmental officials do, we wouldn’t get off as easily. Financial columnists featured on TV segments and in the newspapers give us short, vague advice to humble ourselves and be good consumers. “Spend less and save more” is the motto of decade.
Financial situations aren’t one-size-fits-all in life. In the same vein, the government gets to exist as a monolith, so long as citizens keep bankrolling it.
Most Canadians are left dumbfounded if we wind up in crippling debt or don’t purchase things large enough to stimulate the economy. On the other hand, the government gets blank cheques to go on a double-edged, taxpayer-funded shopping spree. It’s no wonder that fiscal austerity is good for the people, but isn’t good for Ottawa.
Both the Canadian people and the nation might be blind to the needs of the Canadian dollar.
Being consumers, we’re hypocrites to the money-based system we compulsively indulge in. We’re happy for unbeatable sales on Black Friday or Boxing Day, yet in turn we complain about dysfunctional transit systems or how the Liberal government is taking too much liberty with our money. Why care about looming buyer’s remorse and a $21,686 consumer debt average now? Those regionally-employed union garbage collectors are always demanding a pay rise – not in my backyard!
For national and provincial governments, citizens, permanent residents, immigrants and tourists are bottomless pools of revenue. Referring to the weak buying power of the Canadian currency as collateral for low interest rates doesn’t calm the citizenry, but at least there’s a decrease in travel to the States.
(That’s one way to eliminate competition, keep citizens at home, and keep the spotlight on Canada’s pristine image to the world.)
The average Canadian couldn’t care about what austerity or inflation even means in a fiscal sense. Corporations will help Ottawa pacify people even though modern salaries are hardly worth their salt. Nicely-worded stimulus plans and packages will be all the rage – until interest rates have to go up. But that’s not our problem, right? Future generations will pay the debt, the dollar will rise again, and price inflation will be a thing of the past.
If the loonie could talk, it’d be disappointed by the superficiality, hypocrisy and abuse meted out on both sides. And we wouldn’t blame it.
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