Columns: The YMCA And Crony Capitalism

By January 25, 2013Hot Topic, Walter Neufeld

By Walter Neufeld. More and more Abbotsford taxpayers are becoming increasingly alarmed by the effects of the Fiscal Black Hole moiling at the centre of Abbotsford’s political universe.

Turns out the Fiscal Black Hole’s appetite has been fuelled by a steady diet tax dollar waste like Plan “A”, “The Heat”, “Stave Lake Water Supply,” etc. Now worried residents watch in horror as the City prepares to feed the beast with another carcass. this one’s trussed and ready for the slaughter: a 49 million++ tax dollar gift the City plans to give YMCA (includes property tax waiver of $800,000.00 per year). The destructive forces driving this latest initiative appear to be unstoppable. Why?

I’m left to conclude that this latest threat to taxpayers is not a mistake, it’s policy. That policy begins with our federal government and from there is driven through our provincial and local governments.

Harper’s “Industry Canada” appears to be the legislative/policy powerhouse driving a freight train of buisness subsidy outrages into the heart of our communities, at our expense.

In a nutshell, since 1994 and 2007, various levels of government have taken our tax dollars and, without permission, showered Canadian businesses with $202 billion (yes, billion) dollars worth of subsidies. Much of the so-called “investment” was simply wasted. Taxpayers put up the money but without possibility of a fair return on investment while simultaneously forced to become guarantors of the debts incurred.

By default, Canadian taxpayers are forced to become involuntary investors and debt holders in a “Crony Capitalism” investment scheme.

What do “Crony Capital” schemes have to do with the YMCA? For those of you who have the energy, look up the term “Social Enterprise” to understand how the YMCA’s hat in hand plea fits into this political corruption of our democracy.

The 5.99 billion dollar YMCA is arguably not about delivering new community services. We’re already paying for most of those services via the private sector and via taxes that cover a myriad of social services deemed important to Canadians. The YMCA appeal for additional tax dollar appears to represent another level of taxation, by other means.

The YMCA’s appeal for taxpayer money in Abbotsford is another symptom of an illness at the heart of our democracy.

Why do our governments design & support such seemingly harmful fiscal policies?

In short, it’s their way of forcing taxpayers to spend money they wouldn’t otherwise spend. Significantly, the magnificent waste of taxpayer’s money goes on even though it solves none of Canada’s real economic challenges. So why does it go on? It helps insulate politicians and their governance failures from the harsh realities on the ground.

We should be upset by the fact that our hard earned income is so flippantly spilled out.

We should be outraged that our trust has been so horribly abused.

We should be stirred to action by a government who’s carelessly willing to scupper the fundamentals of our democracy to hide its obscenities.

The sum total of these failures are an immanent threat to us all and for that reason must be challenged.

The Fraser Institute is an unlikely ally but one of its senior fellows, Mark Milke, has written an merciless article titled, “The Harper government’s crony capitalism.”

Mark Milke a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute and author of several reports on business subsidies, including Corporate Welfare Bargains at Industry Canada

Walter Neufeld

*Walter Neufeld was born and raised in Abbotsford. He manages a development company operating in BC and in Alberta. Walter has been a critic of the provincial government’s dysfunctional Mines Act for about 12 years. Neufeld is the president of the Fraser Valley Regional District Citizens Association (FVRDCA). Most recently, he’s critiqued both Honourable Randy Hawes and the gravel industries Aggregate Pilot Project which he believes to be a harmful private production document .

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