Cartoon misleading on pension plans

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: I believe that today’s editorial cartoon (August 2, 2014), showing, as it does, a poor, tiny, bedraggled taxpayer-bird sitting on the giant time bomb-egg of ‘underfunded public sector pension plans’ is quite misleading. Back in the 1980s, when the economy was in comparatively good shape, the governments of the day began to raise the spectre of dangerous levels of debt and deficit. In order to ‘save’ present and future taxpayers from what was presented as the terrible fate of never-ending interest payments, those governments robbed the public sector pension plan nest egg, as well as the Unemployment Insurance (as it was called then) and the Canada Pension Plan funds —  ostensibly to pay down the debt. If those robberies had not taken place, the pension plans and the EI fund would all be in great shape.

So, actually what happened was  future pension payments for seniors like myself were taken from us to satisfy the current-at-the-time demands of taxpayers for lower taxes and a lighter national debt load.

Now it may seem to some that ‘paying down the debt’ is a most worthy enterprise. However, let’s look at where that debt came from: I remember back in the 1970s when my husband and I were just starting out. We regularly bought Canada Savings Bonds, which doubled in value over their seven-year life span. However, we also, in 1977, negotiated a five-year mortgage with a whopping 22 per cent interest rate. Our current ‘national debt’ is made up of funds borrowed and interest accrued in those heady days of super-high interest rates. The principal on that debt has long been paid off — probably three or five times over.

Let us, as a country, show some courage against the very wealthy bankers, declare our ‘debts’ paid off long ago, and start putting our hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars into the things we need — health care, education, Infrastructure and yes, supporting those who have faithfully served or been left behind by this crazy economy of ours.

Jane Dunphy,

Annandale

Organizations: Unemployment Insurance, Canada Savings Bonds

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