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The Free Ride is Over

This is one of my favourite articles ever. I'm posting it here because web references to it are slowly disappearing, and in case it goes for ever, I know I will always be able to find it. The article was written by Scott Carpenter for the Rocky Mountain News in 2002. The paper ceased publication in 2009.

Black Thursday they called it. Government workers from around the province of British Columbia adorned black clothing and arm bands to protest the Liberal government's slashing of over eleven thousand civil service positions province wide this last week. Some ministries, such as the Department of Highways, have been gutted – losing up to as much as 60% of their staff. Complete office complexes have been abandoned and "redundant" facilities such as jails and court houses have been shut down – permanently.

Gordon Campbell and the his “Liberal” government swept to power last year (winning 77 of a possible 79 seats in the BC Legislature) on a mandate to set British Columbia back on the road to prosperity. Prosperity, as the Liberals promised, would be built on a platform dedicated to freeing the private sector from crushing taxes and burdensome regulation. Indeed, this last move by the Liberals to help cut 1.9 billion dollars from the budget by 2004 is just one thing in a list of many that has some wondering if the Liberals are actually Libertarians in disguise.

Campbell has even promised to withhold 20% of the salaries of both cabinet ministers and ministers of state until they are able to meet budget and service targets. This may be the first time in history a politician is actually forced to earn his salary!

Indeed, it is rare to see any government – especially in this day and age – taking a step back from the slippery slope. Not only have the Liberals adopted a policy of fiscal responsibility by introducing massive tax cuts (25% on personal income tax alone), reducing the civil service by about a third and reforming and reducing welfare but they’ve also made strides in increasing a degree of social and political freedom as well.

Just around Christmas of 2001 the Provincial government served their Federal Liberal counterparts with notice that the province of BC would no longer continue to administer nor enforce federal firearms laws. The registration centre established by the former “Socialist” New Democratic Party in Victoria is slated to be shut down by about April 1st of this year. From there on the feds will have to deal with this dirty little mess on their own. And with hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Canadians already in violation of the licensing requirements the future for this hideous law looks grim.

This recent move to reduce public “waste” by the government of BC is a clear indication that the welfare state is coming to a crashing halt north of the border.

Add to that the elimination of photo radar, the return of the Grizzly bear hunting season which the NDP axed in the wake of European pressure (the season creates overall revenue in the millions of dollars for rural British Columbians) and a willingness to thumb their noses at powerful special interests and you have a recipe for something bordering on a quiet, clean and tidy little revolution.

In fact, it’s not just civil servants who were in for a shock last week. Welfare recipients in the Province of BC got a sudden wake up call as well. On top of closing 36 welfare offices across the province the new government has also come up with much more stringent “welfare requirements” to get people off the dole and back to work. In all, the BC government sent notice to some 60 000 welfare recipients informing them that they were “employable” and were expected to start looking for work – soon – before the tap gets shut off for good.

On top of all that the government has shut down twenty legal aid offices, twelve district forest offices, ten highways offices, eight correctional facilities, five probation offices, five energy offices, two residential tenancy offices, two coroner’s offices and one medical services plan office. Inmates in correctional facilities will be expected to double up to account for the cell shortage. Whole forestry departments have been shut down and relocated.

And of course all of this has the statists among us (and they’re still here) ranting and raving. In a “My BC” interview, New Democrat Jenny Kwan (one of only two elected to the Legislature) complained: “It’s almost unbelievable, but Gordon Campbell has eliminated the ministries of Environment, Aboriginal Affairs and Women’s Equality, and there is no mention at all of housing.”

Of course not, silly! Welfare is being eliminated from our society.

This recent move to reduce public “waste” by the government of BC is a clear indication that the welfare state is coming to a crashing halt north of the border. If the Liberals have their way, by 2004, we will be 2 billion dollars closer to a balanced budget with greater economic, political and social freedom for all British Columbians. Indeed, we will be one step closer to shedding the idea that man should live in servitude to his brothers.

That means for all the delinquents out there who can’t do anything but push papers and play solitaire in their cubicles, it’s time to wake up, smell the coffee and get a real job. Because the free ride is over buddy and we – the producers of this society – don’t feel the least bit sorry for you.

Black Thursday my ass! They should have called it “Freedom Day.”

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