by Tony Sanger
The Fraser Institute has released its report on Canadian Government Debt 2006 , designed to create public alarm about rising levels of government debt and push for severe cuts to health and social spending.
The report, which claims that each Canadian taxpayer owes $171,032 in federal, provincial and local liabilities, is a typical Fraser Institute cocktail of alarmist “facts,” sober sounding language, misleading analysis, opaque calculations, quarter truths, significant omissions and wildly overreaching policy lessons.
For example, the Fraser Institute includes $516 billion in unfunded liabilities for the Canada Pension Plan. Although it is not stated in the report, this was calculated on the assumption that no one makes one cent more in payroll contributions to the CPP past December 31, 2004, but the plan still has to pay out benefits to everyone who has contributed so far.
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In response to this study, the Canadian Union of Public Employees offers the following six-step plan for the Fraser Institute and other “free market” research institutes, such as the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
1. Acknowledge your dependency on funding from the drug and insurance industries, which would profit enormously from your push to destroy medicare, social programs and “restructure” old age security.
2. Come clean about these massive conflicts of interest and provide full disclosure instead of misleading statements, massive omissions and quarter truths in your reports.
3. Abandon your unrestrained idolatry of corporations and acknowledge that there is a greater public good beyond free markets.
4. Admit that public services — such as health care, education, social security, community services, environmental protection — can be much better and more efficiently provided by the public sector than by private corporations.
5. Search deep into your soul and try and demonstrate a modicum of integrity and honesty in your reports.
6. Renounce funding from multinational drug companies and insurance companies, ask forgiveness, and work to serve those whom you have harmed by your actions, including ordinary Canadians and the most vulnerable in society.
Toby Sanger is Senior Economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.