On reinforcing the opposition's talking points
This was posted to the Ontario NDP website this morning:
Horwath calls for executive bonus ban
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath says millions paid out in bonuses to senior managers in the Ontario Public Service shows that the government is more interested in playing politics than ensuring everyday people get the services they need – and called for a ban on executive bonuses.
“In tough times, people want to see scarce dollars invested where they’re needed most. They hear a lot of talk from government but see that the people who need breaks the least are the ones who keep getting them,” said Horwath.
Ninety eight per cent (98%) of managers employed directly by the government in Ontario’s public service received bonuses in 2011 costing the treasury $35.6 million. Many more are employed in the broader public sector. Horwath says New Democrats plan to introduce a Bill to put a freeze on bonuses during the current restraint period.
This just reinforces the larger message that we're in a "restraint period" and that the way out of it is to freeze people's incomes. If you're concerned about some of those managers becoming wealthy at taxpayers' expense, raise their marginal income tax rates. But the senior executives who are making the real money aren't in the public service.
We know there's lots of money out there. But the economy has been rigged to funnel most of it in one direction -- towards the top -- and it's being moved offshore and hoarded. The way to get the economy working for the majority of us again isn't to keep stifling the flow of the cash that's left in the system. It's to get those huge stockpiles of cash that the wealthy and the large corporations are sitting on redistributed. Yes, I said redistributed.
But all Horwath's little exercise in populism here does is reinforce the narrative that we all have to tighten our belts. If she wanted to examine the bonus system and see if performance-based compensation was actually having the desired effect, that would be one thing. But when she talks about an across-the-board freeze during these "tough times" she's just echoing what McGuinty and Broten want to do to teachers. If her proposed legislation goes through and the freeze is put in place, what argument does she have left when the Liberals come back for teachers or other public servants? Or to make other cuts that will really hurt? Because at that point she's accepted the idea that we need to keep hacking and slashing.
She's buying into the austerity regime and it's not helping.