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GREENINGS: Short-term gains lead to long-term losses (Feb. 2020)

February 27th, 2020 · No Comments

Province has no business case for reckless cuts

By Terri Chu

Last year, Premier Ford and friends dropped $231 million of “taxpayer” money on killing wind energy projects. It’s one thing to not build any more but spending money to cancel projects? That’s next level “respecting” taxpayer money (as he likes to say). What this government has shown us is that it cares not one whit for being fiscally responsible and it cares not one whit for the best interests of the citizens. 

Rather than installing more EV charging stations, Ontario is removing them in a step that’s sending air pollution in the wrong direction. GO’s justification is that the spots are not making sufficient revenue to justify their existence. I’m pretty sure there’s a Greek proverb that reads society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in, not society grows great when we make decisions solely based on first quarter profits.

We are in this climate mess precisely because of our narrow focus on short-term monetary results. Now Ford wants to take the driving forces of our climate crisis and spread them to every facet of our society. As if it wasn’t bad enough that our children face food shortages in the future, he wants to ensure they aren’t educated enough to think critically about how to cope with the crisis. 

Universities now have ridiculous metrics that funding is to be measured against, including “graduate earnings” and “proportion of graduates employed in related fields.” What this spells is essentially the death of liberal arts. Schools will now only focus on pumping out graduates in high earning professions. I don’t even know how liberal arts graduates measure up, whether or not their profession is in a “related field.” The point of education is to broaden your mind and allow you to think critically, regardless of the  profession you choose in life. 

At the secondary level, the Ford government wants to institute mandatory e-learning despite the fact that students in primarily e-learning-based institutions are finding themselves unmotivated by the format.

Other than saving money, there’s no reason to push students to get their education online. On the one hand, Ford pats himself on the back for banning cell phones in school and then, in a move consistent only with profit-based ideology, he demands students do mandatory e-learning courses. There’s only one meaningful motivation behind this and it is NOT in the best interests of the youth. Meanwhile, we have enough money in our budgets for tax cuts to the tune of billions, primarily targeted at wealthy individuals. 

At the primary level, class sizes have ballooned. On the personal side, my daughter’s JK classroom has 29 students in it. Teachers are asking for a raise that matches inflation, something that isn’t an unreasonable ask. However, Ford is refusing to budge on an issue he knows he’s on the losing side of. Teachers aren’t worth a pay raise of 2%, but MPPs are worth an additional 14%. These are all ideological attacks. They’re not even consistent with the “saving money” claims. 

Our climate is on the cusp of losing its ability to sustain human life because of short-term focus on profits over trifling details like clean drinking water. If our education system collapses, it will not be able to even produce the workforce that has been instrumental in operating the levers of capitalism. Short-term thinking means we kill the golden goose for a tasty roast goose. This is being implemented at every level of this government. 

Our kids deserve a lot better than this. Australia is feeling the effects of short-term thinking. We need not follow suit. Let’s plant those trees, even if we won’t sit in their shade.  Let’s stop going profitably backwards.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy use, and help distinguish environmental truths from myths. Send questions, comments, and ideas for future columns to Terri at terri.chu@whyshouldicare.ca.

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Tags: Annex · Life · Opinion