The way in which we elect political leadership and condo directors is surprisingly consistent. Both need to change if we desire meaningful improvement.
The concept of limited resources is something most understand. Each of us has a limited amount of money to spend. Spending more than we have requires borrowing money for which we pay fees and interest until the amount is repaid. As debt increases so do interest payments. At some point spending on necessities is reduced to make required payments on borrowed money. This can create a cash shortage and legal problems unless we stop spending and focus on repayment of debt obligations.
This concept is sometimes forgotten in condo communities. We want more security and amenities. We demand that our fees pay for more things. Electing those both competent and willing to manage our hard earned money is often secondary to electing friends or those making impractical promises. We’re then surprised and upset when, predictably a few years later, things go badly.
During federal, provincial and municipal election campaigns the idea of limited spending disappears. As a society we have shown a preference for ignoring reasonable politicians and electing those least capable of managing the authority and money we entrust to them.
We all have to make choices between our wants and needs. What we need are condo directors and politicians willing to make these same choices rather than pretending we can have it all.
We are fortunate that our form of government and taxation covers basic services for all regardless of ability to pay. This has, unfortunately, created debt obligations that need to be addressed. Similarly, some communities have become accustomed to living beyond their means by failing to ensure their building is properly maintained and establishing a fully-funded reserve fund. Failure is in recognizing the limits to what we can afford.
Provincially we have seen recent opposition to spending cuts for autism therapy and medical treatments. Cutting of library services and larger class sizes have been opposed. Lacking in this opposition is any credible approach to reducing spending and willingness to stop overspending. When our politicians fail to control spending and avoid taxation to raise more money, they borrow more money and commit us to repaying this debt.
Our elected governments have failed to live within their means. For decades our politicians have operated without spending limits. They have chosen to spend far more than they bring in. Our debt is growing which means more of each tax dollar is being used to pay interest on this debt. In Ontario interest on our debt, at $13 billion a year, is only exceeded by spending on healthcare, education and government services. Unless we begin to pay down the debt we will have no choice but to cut back more drastically on essential services. Any elected party or politician trying to fix things is portrayed by others as being a bad thing.
The one constant is that debt continues to grow as does the amount we pay to sustain it.
We have to accept that cuts in spending will be made. Nonessential programs will be reduced or eliminated. We will have to pay for more of what we need and spend less on our wants. This acceptance comes with electing politicians, and condo directors, who lead by example by cutting budgets and expenses so they are in line with available revenues.