‘Bottom line’ defeats services

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: I am amazed by the traction which has been achieved by the idea that government services must make money or at least break even. The older concept of government as the appropriate provider of essential infrastructure and services which are impractical or impossible to provide on an individual basis seems to be fading away in the face of the all-out focus on the "bottom line".

Of course Canada Post is going to lose money. The provision of mail service right across the country, to even the most isolated outposts of our nation, is an essential part of a functioning society, but if it were a money-making endeavour then private industry would have pushed into the business, rather than raking off the profitable package delivery portion.

We are also hearing proposals that roads and bridges should also be break even or profitable, (often including the idea that they should be turned over to private enterprise) and run on a fee-for-service basis (toll roads and other revenue generating schemes). After all, not everyone uses a particular bridge, we hear.  

But isn’t it nice to have one there when we need it? Isn’t it worthwhile to have an open path to transport our nation’s products? Can we envision a time when an emergency evacuation of an area depends on having enough loonies to get on the road and across the bridge?

If the current test of government service is profit then that should be applied to the military also. Certainly that category of expenditure dwarfs the loss accrued by providing us all mail communication and other infrastructure. The criteria would be that the military would only involve itself in situations which can generate enough revenue to offset the expenditures. If the looting, pillaging and theft of resources is insufficient to cover the costs then it is not worth doing.

If that sounds unreasonable then why does the destruction of our other essential services seem less so?

Harold Smith,

South Melville

Organizations: Canada Post

Geographic location: Melville

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