Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Taking the Recession Out on the Poor -- Again

We’re all facing tough economic times these days, so when politicians make promises to help the most vulnerable they had better live up to their promises.

Take the mayor of Canada’s largest city to task. Toronto Mayor David Miller promised in his last budget that he would freeze public transit fares for the entire 2009 fiscal year. Last fiscal year, Toronto’s public transit system saw several fare increases.

Today, one of the Toronto’s councillors – albeit from one of the city’s more well-to-do ridings – started floating the idea of raising public transit fares by 10-cents, so that property taxes won’t rise.

Those who take transit are often among the city’s poorest – they are in most major metropolitan cities in North America. The poorest residents often don’t even own their homes – they rent. So property tax increases don’t affect them as much, as say, those who don’t often take public transit, and can afford to own real estate and a nice car.

Like I said at the start of this blog, we’re all facing tough economic times. But why do politicians constantly go after the poor to save their slimy skin?

Raising public transit fares will put an added fiscal burden on those who just can’t hop in their cars instead of taking transit. And the money being raised is supposed to be for all the social programs the city wants to keep – and to create some new ones – to help us all through these tough economic times. But many social programs are geared to help the poorest of our cities – yet cities take more from the poor in tough economic times.

Aside from the obvious fact that if Toronto’s public transit fares increase this fiscal year, it will be yet another politician not keeping his word, what this really boils down to is economic class power.

The poor are at the bottom of the economic class power ladder – usually the neediest have the least amount of education, experience and know-how in raising public awareness to fight for their rights. While the richer, more educated, and more experienced middle-class knows how to rally to ensure their rights aren’t trampled.

So the poor get beat-up time and again, even though they need more support than the other socio-economic classes.

It isn’t hard to figure that politicians ultimately want to ensure the people that voted them into office, will do so again in the next election. So they will look out for their particular ridings. That’s the nature of the political engine in Canada.

My question then, is where are the politicians representing the poorer areas of Canada’s largest city when you need them? How come whenever another politician puts forward a motion or a program of change which will obviously favour their middle class voters, the politicians representing the poorest areas just sit on their hands?

I’ve heard the politicians from the poorest areas speak before – I know they can. But how come they choose not too?

No comments:

Post a Comment