Letter to the Editor: Quaint A-OK

Editor: Re: Clash of visions in political spring (B.C. Views, April 18).Tom Fletcher claims B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix “is diametrically opposed to the global consensus” on the economy.He seems particularly annoyed that Dix is calling for higher taxes on corporations and banks, and dismisses his position on inequality, telling us that the “rhetoric about state-imposed wealth redistribution seems not so much alarming as quaint.”I don’t see what is “quaint” about Dix’s proposals. Inequality in Canada has now reached levels not seen since the Wall Street crash of 1929, with the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us continuing to widen.The gap has gotten so bad that the richest 10 per cent of B.C. families now earn more than the bottom 50 per cent combined. This was not the case 30 years ago. And this is not the case today in many other advanced industrialized countries, where government has taken steps to protect working and middle class families.The harmful effects on inequality are well documented. As a number of respected researchers have pointed out, health and social problems tend to be much worse in wealthy societies with high levels of inequality. Community life and social relations are typically weaker, mental illness and drug addiction more common, physical health poorer and life expectancy lower, obesity widespread, educational performance lagging, teenage births more frequent, violent crime a common occurrence, rates of imprisonment and punishment much higher, and social mobility far more difficult.   What makes Fletcher’s argument surprising is that he was very supportive of “state-imposed wealth redistribution” under the Gordon Campbell government, when it implemented the HST, did away with the corporation capital tax on banks and financial institutions, lowered corporate income taxes, and raised MSP premiums and long-term care fees. The big difference is that the Campbell government was effectively redistributing wealth from B.C.’s working and middle classes to the wealthiest and most privileged families, which is apparently good policy in Fletcher’s book.    If what Adrian Dix is calling for is “quaint” then I’m all for the quaint. And I can tell you many other working and middle classes families struggling to make ends meet feel the same.Robert Douglas Ladysmith