Campaigning in the Lower Mainland’s transit referendum begins to unfold in earnest and the Yes and No sides have now unveiled their core arguments. For my own part I feel we shouldn’t even being having a referendum on such matters. It is in my mind a transparent attempt to pit one set of users in our transportation system against another, for the political benefit of the B.C. Liberals. Whether a clumsy attempt to regain a degree of populist cred after the HST referendum fiasco or perhaps to distract from other things. Who can say?
Nevertheless, we can’t wish the referendum away. Thus I support the Yes side.
One the arguments for Yes, and Yes now – rather than 3 years from now hoping for a BCNDP victory – that I think is being overlooked (and what might appeal to small-c conservatives in the Langleys and Maple Ridges better than the health benefits of transit) is this argument put forth by David Dodge:
This is the right time to invest in infrastructure for both governments and businesses, not only because of our structural problems but also in view of the prevailing low real interest rates.
Interest rates are at historic lows. It has never been cheaper to borrow money to build stuff, especially economically useful stuff like public transit. In the 5 to 10 year period (or more) it might take to address this issue again in the wake of a No victory, it might cost us a lot more to build our needed expansion of public transit. But wait, there’s more!
Moreover, infrastructure bonds would provide suitable long-term assets for pension plans and insurance companies to match their long-term liabilities.
Kevin Milligan has some thought’s on Dodge’s arguments here.
I went to high school with Krishna Pendakur (many fond memories of playing cut-throat games of Diplomacy in his basement) and would hesitate to debate him on anything…his brain is the size of a planet…but I’m going to have to give the nod to Klein here. Pendakur is describing an well-formed HST and not the one before the voters. Does that mean a hypothetical NDP government couldn’t fix the HST in the future?
Dunno…I’m wrestling with that myself.