Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 2, 2007
WCR Letters to the Editor
Live, speak and do what is true during Lent
I was delighted to read theWCR editorial of March 26: "Limit growth for sake of future generations." We live today with falsehoods that by force of repetition by "experts" become "truths."
Several times during Lent, I reread Pope Benedict's Ash Wednesday message. The pope writes the central program of the Lenten season is "to listen to the word of truth, to live, speak and do what is true, to refuse falsehood that poisons humanity and is the vehicle of all evils."
The words of the last section of this Lenten program seemed exaggerated. They reminded me of George Bush's "axis of evil." Then on March 12, I read an article by economist Brett Gartner, author of You Get What You Pay For, a report prepared for the Canada West Foundation. He claimed that for the Canadian government "to attract top quality people to the senior ranks of public service, pay packages must be at least somewhat competitive with the private sector."
While the maximum salary and performance-based pay for the deputy minister of finance might have been $340,000 in 2005, the lowest-paid CEO of Canada's five largest banks earned $8.1 million in 2005. The highest paid brought in a cool $29.5 million.
We get what we pay for, Gartner argued. People are no longer drawn to government by the notion of "making a difference." The craziness of exorbitant corporate CEO salaries and benefits has become the norm.
How will this affect the poorest sector of society? Is it fair? Is it just?
Does it help any of us that the 10 richest people on earth have a net combined worth of US$255 billion - roughly 60 per cent of the income of sub-Saharan Africa - or that the world's 500 richest people have more money than the total annual earnings of the poorest three billion?
What is more important: that 1,000 BMO employees keep their jobs or that the jobs are cut so that the bank can meet its 2007 targets after one of its most profitable years ever? Faced with a US$3 billion deficit, why does General Motors cut jobs and annual employee health expenses by $3 billion instead of the cream at the top?
What do we Albertans have to gain in the long run from uncontrolled development of the oil sands? Is it fair that Canadian farmers face a 50 per cent drop in income in 2007?
Is it fair that some 12 to 15 per cent of Canadians still live in poverty?
Does it help the 30 million Mexicans who live on less than $2 a day that a Mexican, the world's third-richest man, owns their phone company and therefore determines how much they will pay?
Why are Canadian mining companies allowed to violate with impunity, human, aboriginal, property and environmental rights in Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Honduras and just about every other country of the Global South and still get handsome economic benefits for being registered in Canada, still qualify for huge loans from the World Bank?
Why doesn't our government contribute 0.7 per cent of our gross domestic product to international aid as promised and why can't economists agree that it would be an excellent "investment"?
Let's make Pope Benedict's Lenten program our Easter season program: "To listen to the word of truth, to live, speak and do what is true, to refuse falsehood that poisons humanity and is the vehicle of all evils."
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