Opinion

Please Advise! Is This BC Liberal Budget Trying to Romance Me?

I mean, reducing MSP premiums is an awfully nice gift. But so strangely timed...

By Steve Burgess 24 Feb 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Doctor Steve,

The BC Liberal government has pledged to reduce Medical Services Plan premiums for thousands of British Columbians. A good thing, right? Come on now. You can’t really complain about that, can you?

Signed,

Clark Fan

Dear CF,

You’re not the boss of me. I can do what I like. But the new plan for MSP premiums revealed in the BC Liberal budget does raise some questions.

Is reducing or eliminating MSP premiums a good idea? Many B.C. voters will say yes. So if it was a good idea all along why wasn’t it done sooner? And if it’s a bad idea, a populist vote grab that will rob needed money from the provincial health care system, why do it now? The answer to both questions is as clear as a May date circled on an electoral calendar. Good idea or bad, it is being done for one of the two reasons that seem to drive almost every BC Liberal policy — cheap pandering to voters or lucrative pandering to friends and insiders.

True love is a wonderful thing. Romantic dinners at fancy restaurants, flowers, gifts, maybe one day a big diamond ring. Expensive, though. There’s a reason married couples eventually tend to drop the fancy dinners and pricey gifts in favour of paying the rent. And then there’s the fact that in many cases the fancy dinners and flowers and gifts aren’t really about marriage at all, but something rather more short term. Once the goal has been accomplished, the bloom of romance ebbs as quickly as the prospect of massive LNG wealth.

Even worse is when the flowers and candy and fancy dinners are not even coughed up beforehand. They’re conditional — a promise of future flowers and pearls if certain reciprocal benefits are received. The BC Liberals have postponed their great MSP premium reduction until after the election. If you don’t put out with a vote? Forget about your little gift, Toots. Perhaps the MSP reduction will be available only to those who can produce a photocopied ballot marked with a Liberal “x.”

Supporting children should be a universal value. But anybody who has ever been through a failed marriage or an ill-considered fling also knows that sometimes, child support is court-ordered. So it is with the BC Liberal budget of 2017. There’s more education money to allow for smaller class sizes. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, damn it. And maybe a little bit because the Supreme Court said they had to. But still! Good for them!

The reality of pandering, romantic or political, is that it is directed at the already favoured. Casanova does not waste time dancing with wallflowers. Whether at the provincial or federal level, some voters are always sexier than others. Before this budget arrived the Clark government had already offered new homeowners grants. We renters don’t get many chances to show our foxtrot and tango skills.

There are some good things in the new budget. Perhaps, as you suggest Clark Fan, we should just be glad of that. It’s just difficult to trust someone when past behaviour suggests motives that are less than noble. One thing is clear — it’s a good thing we don’t hold elections every year. How much pandering can a body politic stand? Some people would end up morbidly obese. Not everybody, though. Never going to happen for everybody.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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