How Not To Fund Infrastructure

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 1296, by Michal Rozworski, Aug 25, 2016.

… Don’t have the taxes to pay for new buses? It’s okay, you can sell your electricity utility to pay for them instead. In fact, this is precisely what the Ontario Liberal government is doing. Already 30 per cent of the profitable Hydro One have been sold and another 30 per cent will be sold before 2018. A public Hydro One could more directly fight climate change, lower energy costs for the poor or work with First Nations on whose lands generation often happens. A private Hydro becomes an instrument for profit first with other goals secondary.

What the Liberals have started in Ontario will soon be rolled out across Canada. Here are the problems with these schemes.

Cut Taxes to Create a Funding Crisis: … //

… Pension Funds on the Prowl for ‘Investment Opportunities’: … //

… Finally, here’s a quote from an investment manager in a Maclean’s piece on asset recycling:

“‘If you took a road that used to be free and you tolled it, I think consumers are right to say, ‘Hey, that used to be free and now it’s being tolled, that’s unfair’,’ he said.

“‘But let’s remember that governments need to balance their books somehow… I don’t think they can raise taxes too much more. I don’t think any of us want that.’”

Typical right-wing talking points. The problem is that these typical right-wing talking points are coming from someone ostensibly representing union workers: this investment manager works for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Canada is a world leader when it comes to workers’ own pensions being turned against them and younger generations. What were once simple, safe pension investments in government bonds are today predatory arrangements with pension boards acting more like hedge funds. Asset recycling only accelerates this process and binds regular people more tightly to a system that ultimately works against them. [Ed.: see “Pension Funds and Privatization,” LeftStreamed No. 194]

So, too few buses in your city? Sell an airport. First Nations have inadequate health facilities? Here’s a few Hydro shares. Need a pension? Buy a highway… and don’t forget to contract out the maintenance and toll staff to make sure you’re earning maximum returns. As a friend put it, “Trudeauism is able to sublimate both neoliberalism and social democracy into itself.” Just so, asset recycling is the wrong answer to each of the above good questions.

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(Michal Rozworski is an independent economist, writer and organizer. He currently works as a union researcher in Toronto, blogs at Political Eh-conomy, where this article first appeared);


INDIA: Government raises the bar for infrastructure funding, on The Hindu, by Gireesh Menon, Aug 28, 2016;

Turkey’s Offensive Against ISIS & Press Crackdown is Really Just War on Kurds – Vijay Prashad, part 1, 8.05 min, uploaded by Democracy Now, Aug 26, 2016;

Turkey’s Duplicity on Syria, on The People’s, by Stephen Lendman, Aug 26, 2016;

CANADA, Guelph: City expects good news related to federal/provincial infrastructure funding, on Guelph Today, by Rob O’Flanagan, Aug 25, 2016 … unding for transit and waste water anticipated;

… and this:

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