In September 2008, the world’s financial system was in freefall. Before long the entire global economy was in a deep recession. We were suddenly living in the shadows of what could become one of the greatest economic crises in modern history. How did this happen?
Most of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the arrogant, greedy and reckless bankers and brokers in the financial world. A lot of the blame also lies with those governments that allowed these so-called financial wizards to do whatever they wanted through deregulation. The results have been devastating for our economy, families and communities.
Fortunately, the bottom didn’t entirely fall out of the global economy. It didn’t because governments around the world – the public sector, we the taxpayers – spent trillions of dollars collectively to save the private sector from a more catastrophic crash. While we certainly haven’t regained all that we lost in the recession, and many regions and sectors of the economy are still in bad shape, the good news is that things are slowly getting better overall thanks to government stimulus packages.
However, the recession, stimulus spending and tax cuts have hit government finances hard and public debt has grown. Some governments and business groups are now arguing that we’ll have to cut the amount the government spends on public services and public employees and turn over some public services to the private sector. We think this wouldn’t be the right thing or the smart thing to do.
Families rely on quality public services every day and when times are tough they need these services more than ever. Cutting public spending on services provided in our local hospitals, or the schools in our community, or the home care that helps frail seniors, or the programs that protect our food and water safety, or the early learning centres that give our children the best start in life would be irresponsible and damage the quality of life for families.
At the same time, with so many people already unemployeed in our communities, it doesn’t make sense to cut more jobs in the public sector. Public employees spend their paycheques at local businesses and that’s an important way of supporting the local economy. Many economists are warning that large scale cuts in public spending and job losses in the public sector could push our economy back into recession. Getting people back to work in the private sector and keeping people working in the public sector is the best way to strengthen both the economy and government finances.
Big spending cuts are not inevitable; they are a political choice that can be prevented. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is speaking up for public services and for the people who provide them. We are campaigning at a national, provincial and local community level to make the case for properly-funded, high quality public services. We believe that putting pressure on politicians and policy-makers now will make them think twice before making deep spending cuts and privatization the preferred option.
By speaking out now we can also encourage politicians to consider real alternatives to deep cuts and privatisation of public services. For example, taxing the banks and financial institutions that caused the economic crisis in the first place is one example. And our politicans could take many steps to make our tax system fairer – ending ineffective tax cuts for corporations like WalMart, ending tax loopholes for CEO stock options, and ensuring the very wealthy pay their fair share are three good examples.
Don’t stand by while politicians decide on public service cuts that could hurt your family and community. In this crucial time, your voice has extraordinary power. Make sure you use it. Join our campaign and make sure the politicians hear your voice about the value of public services and the need for tax fairness. By working together we can apply political pressure and influence public policy - and here's how you can get involved:
Strengthening public services and ensuring tax fairness is the right thing and smart thing to do. The task has never been more formidable. The need has never been greater. It will take the effort of each of us. ALL TOGETHER NOW!