It's always interesting to hear arguments that fly in the face of common sense and this letter doesn't disappoint. That the nonsense below comes from a group of union leaders that represent over one million Quebec workers is all the more depressing.
To read the original letter in French go here.
Interestingly Le Devoir has referred to this coalition of unions as 'progressives,' although I can't imagine why.
"For many years we have seen in Quebec an expression of a dominating idea that tirelessly repeats the mantra advocating the disengagement of the state, privatization of public services, and laissez-faire market economics . This phenomenon has gained momentum, thanks to the worst financial crisis and economic downturn in the last sixty years.
The preparation of the last Quebec budget has also resulted in a well-orchestrated strategy of factual distortion, half-truths and fear mongering of the worst kind.
To summarize, we are poorer and more indebted than elsewhere, while benefiting from broader public services and social programs. In sum, according to this view, we are living beyond our means. And the situation will only worsen with the aging of the population. (This part is actually true...editor)
We are served up the same depressing diagnosis in relation to the state of the economy: lagging productivity, anemic investment, stagnant population, etc.. And we could go on and on with a long litany of alleged failures.
All this serves as a backdrop to justify a shift toward privatization and the pricing of public services on the principle of 'user pay' and this, in order to directly place on the shoulders of users the increased cost of funding these services.
However, these guidelines can only create more inequality and hardship for the less fortunate, as far as social rights and economic rights are concerned.
To balance these public demonstrations of self-flagellation, the 'Social Alliance' was formed. To do this, we intend to publicize alternatives that will demonstrate that it is necessary to have a strong state if we want to have a vibrant economy and a better redistribution of wealth. (Oh, oh, more government intervention. Redistribute more of the wealth? ...editor)
Based on the concerns of the groups forming the Alliance, we have identified targets to influence the trajectory of the provincial budget next spring.
Budget cuts and balance
The government must end its program of fiscal restraint in all directions, because, under the pretext of an early return to balanced budgets, it is cutting services to the population already weakened by years of cuts and reforms in a most inappropriate manner that will deprive it of those instruments needed to meet new needs. (A call for increased government spending...editor)
Rising tuition is a false solution to the problems of financing higher education which would hit the brunt of the poorest students and their families. This merely diverts attention from the need and urgency to make major public investments in education. The same pressing needs are felt in regard to services for young children, the elderly, and that underspending in health and social programs and for an efficient civil service. (a blanket call for increased government spending...editor)
To restore a balanced budget, we must consider a longer time frame, (a proposal to run deficits for longer periods of time...editor) especially since the weight of the deficit compared to Quebec's economy is one of the lowest among industrialized countries. (I'm speechless!... Can anyone explain this? Quebec's deficit is among the lowest?...editor)
If the magnitude of the debt that we bequeath to future generations must be taken into account, we must also worry about the state we leave them public services and social programs. This too is part of equity between generations.
(Justifying dumping the debt on our children ...editor)
The fairness of the tax measures
While studies show that we are paying too much for our drugs, we believe that the health contribution amounting to $200 per adult, regardless of income, is a regressive, unwarranted and pernicious. (Against user fees ...editor)
We also believe that the tax system for those with very high incomes should be overhauled. For example, a 4th level of 28% should be added to the tax table for income above $ 127 000, as is in the federal system. The corporate tax should also be tightened in order to limit tax avoidance and loopholes of all kinds. (Less than 2% of Quebeckers make over $100K, even doubling their tax rate wouldn't put a dent in the deficit...editor)
Similarly, we will want to ensure that the exploitation of our natural resources is in a sustainable development perspective that entails economic benefits for the people and the Quebec government. (Plain spin ...editor)
We must also ensure that the federal government substantially enhances its contribution to support the provinces while respecting their jurisdiction. (Yikes! Canda should substanially increase aid to Quebec! Apparantly 8 billion in equalization is not enough! ...editor)
We expect to enact strong measures to ensure the vitality of the manufacturing sector and to help create jobs in a sustainable development perspective. We expect to enact measures that enhance the Quebecois know-how and encourage the modernization of equipment and access to technology. Measures that recognize the vitality of our service businesses, measures that stimulate the social economy. (Whaaat? ...editor)
For this, we rely on the establishment of a social dialogue that would focus the true contribution of workers to the development of work organization and innovation in enterprises. (Pay workers more ...editor)
Companies and public institutions should promote the retention of jobs and make strong commitments to invest in training. Thereby promoting the development of skilled workers and thus creating workers better able to cope with changes in the labour market and the increasing environmental issues, these are quality jobs that we provide. (Pay workers more ...editor)
This is not only a concrete way to create wealth, but also a better way to distribute this wealth . (Workers deserve a bigger slice of the pie ...editor)
We understand the difficulties that Quebec society is facing. We also recognize the challenges that arise, especially regarding the reconciliation between economy and environment. We want to meet these challenges, as we have done collectively in the past with some success. But we will not ransack our public services and our social programs to do this. We will do so by strengthening the levers of state economic intervention. (More government intervention is better ...editor)
We strongly believe that these progressive solutions will enable society to continue moving forward.
Each member of the Social Alliance will, in the coming months, educate the people of Quebec about the alternatives to the dominant discourse on public finances and by Spring, will undertake coordinated action on a regional or national basis.
FTQ, CSN, CSQ, CSD, SFPQ, APTS, SPGQ, FEUQ, FECQ
So let's summarize;
- Ottawa should give more money to Quebec.
- The Quebec government should increase spending.
- The Quebec government should run bigger deficits for even longer periods of time.
- The Quebec government should spend more money on the civil service.
- Quebec workers should be paid more and get a bigger slice of the economic pie.
- The Quebec government should control more of the economy.
- Rich people should pay more taxes.
- Companies should pay more taxes.