Stop Paying the Rich and Increase Funding for Social
The electoral programs of the Alberta New Democratic
Party (NDP) and the United Conservative Party (UCP) both call for cuts
to spending on social programs and public services. These anti-social
programs are said to be necessary to eliminate the existing annual
deficit in the provincial budget, bring expenditures and revenue into
balance and reduce the provincial debt. This talk of balancing the
budget is all the
rage across the country with Alberta and Ontario leading the
charge. It is a farce. A person can balance or not balance
anything when the person controls what is being balanced. What
does this balancing of provincial revenue and expenditures have
to do with solving the problem of guaranteeing health care and
education as a right for all? Nothing! It is medieval
obscurantism of the worst kind, a trick to throw the working
class into confusion and have it give up fighting for its rights.
At the end of the four
years of the proposed NDP and UCP
budgets, what problem will they have solved? Certainly not the
problem of guaranteeing health care and education for all as a
right. Even their budgets remain unbalanced with the NDP deficit
only slightly greater than that of the UCP and the overall
provincial debt not much different. The UCP cuts revenue by
decreasing corporate taxation while at the same time more
severely cutting expenditures for social programs and public
services. The NDP cuts expenditures on social programs and public
services as well but with not much change in revenue. The end
result for the two cartel parties in terms of their balancing act
is a saw-off, while problems in the health care and education
sectors remain unresolved.
Increased funding for social programs and public
services is a
pro-social response to solve a problem. By doing so, a program is
undertaken to bring social and public services into the
twenty-first century in conformity with the socialized productive
forces generally. This opens the door to solving the problem of
guaranteeing the right of all to education and health care.
The productive forces need healthy and educated working
people. The value educated and healthy workers bring to the
productive forces in all sectors spurs them forward to produce
greater value and raise up the entire society. Private ownership
with the motive of making enterprise and interest profit robs the
health care and education systems of much needed resources and
revenue to expand and humanize them. The problem of private
ownership taking value out of the sector and even the economy
altogether is compounded with the refusal of other sectors to
realize (pay for) the full social value they consume when buying
the capacity to work of working people.
Science and technology have made enormous advances
possible for people to live longer and healthier lives. Fifty
years ago treatment for a heart attack was very crude with one in
three people dying compared with one in 20 today. Hip replacement
surgery was rare until the late 1980s, with little alternative to
pain and disability.
Increased funding for health care and education reflects
and many more profound changes to the quality of people's lives
and to longevity. To see this advance as a drain on society is
the most inhuman, anti-social outlook possible. To increase
funding for social programs and public services is a positive
direction for the economy.
Funding of Health Care and Education
How should health care and education be funded?
this problem are restricted to those available within the
neo-liberal agenda and what it considers acceptable for
discussion. Those that declare funding of social programs a
problem of a lack of general tax revenue suggest that working
people should be willing to pay higher taxes to have better
social programs, and to pay carbon taxes if they are concerned
about climate change. Another suggestion is that Alberta should
institute a sales tax, a regressive tax that hits the working
class and poor the hardest.
Other neo-liberal solutions
are the suggestion that government
spending on social programs is too much and should be cut back.
With layoffs and cutbacks more public money can go directly into
the hands of the rich, which they say will then trickle down to
the working people when in fact all that trickles down is the
blood, sweat and tears of working people.
The ruling elite deem that the forms of taxation that
into being in the twentieth century such as income tax both
personal and corporate, property taxes and user fees for public
services are all necessary and beyond question or even
discussion. In contrast, many working people consider general
taxation to fund social programs a fraud to obscure the
refusal of company oligarchs to pay for the public value they
receive from social programs and public services.
The problem is not lack of money to invest in social
and public services but the lack of realization by other sectors
of the economy of the value those programs produce and the return
of that value to those public institutions that produced it. In
the modern, interconnected economy of industrial mass production,
the different parts of the economy must realize the value they
consume from other sectors including the value from social
programs and public services. The refusal of the ruling elite in
control to recognize and realize the full value their companies
consume from social programs and public services greatly weakens
The refusal to pay the full social value of the capacity
work of healthy and educated workers over their lifetime is a
glaring example. This extends to the refusal of the big companies
to pay for the value they receive from public transit, roads,
highways, bridges, airports, research carried out at public
institutions and all else that is necessary for a modern society
and its integrated economy of industrial mass production.
The oligopolies demand that
the state provide them with
healthy educated workers, public infrastructure and services they
require without realizing the full social value. Never mind that
many oligopolies do not even pay taxes or what they pay is far
below the posted rate because of tax breaks of various kinds.
Never mind the billions they receive in pay-the-rich schemes and
in infrastructure and services that have become normal practice
for big business. The end result is recurring economic crises and
insecurity for working people.
The block to increasing investments in social programs
public services is not a problem of lack of money but of the
social, economic and political power and control the financial
oligarchy exerts over the economy to make it serve its private
interests, and the absence of social responsibility in their aim.
This is countered by the striving of the people for empowerment
so that they can control the decisions which affect their lives.
It is their struggles in defence of the rights of all which make
the difference, not the election promises or policy objectives of
the cartel parties vying to form the next government.
1. "At the end of the
four-year budget period, the projected deficits are $3.2 billion
for the 2018 NDP budget plan and $1.4 billion for the UCP plan [...]
[T]he UCP's fiscal strategy is not to address the deficit or
debt, since the UCP's stated debt load after four years of $86
billion is not far off from the NDP projection of $95 billion."
-- From: The Employment Impact of Election Promises: Analysis
of budgetary scenarios of UCP and NDP platforms, prepared for
the Alberta Federation of Labour (April 2019).
This article was published in
Volume 49 Number
13 - April 13, 2019
Paying the Rich and Increase Funding for Social Programs