Bernie Sanders speaks at rally in Phoenix

BC VIEWS: Decoding politically correct terms

What does 'progressive' mean these days? How about 'inequality' or 'social justice'?

Last week’s column used a term that’s currently popular in politics, “austerity.”

This is the political act of not spending enough money. It has recently been declared a sin by “progressive” people. In its most virulent and extreme form, “austerity” even leads to running a surplus on the public treasury to pay down debt.

Opposing “austerity” came into fashion in Greece, the crumbling, corrupt basket case that may yet bring down the whole European Union. Greek politicians got themselves elected by pretending outrage that the rest of Europe wasn’t willing to keep bailing them out forever.

South of the border, we have seen Bernie Sanders riding a wave of popularity, with sweeping promises including free health care and university tuition. His plan implies increasing U.S. federal spending by 40 per cent or so.

The Sanders plan isn’t just based on “puppies and rainbows,” as Austan Goolsbee, former chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, told The New York Times. “They’ve evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.”

We’re getting a fair bit of magic puppy politics from the Justin Trudeau government in Ottawa, and with an election on the horizon in B.C., an update of Ambrose Bierce’s immortal Devil’s Dictionary might be useful.

Progressive: According to Vancouver MLA Sam Sullivan, this used to refer to the modernist movement that brought at-large elections and a professional civil service to local government.

Now it generally means going into debt as fast as you can. Today’s self-styled progressives also oppose most industrial activity, which is what brought us the progress they enjoy today.

Inequality: This is the awful social problem where some people earn more money than others. It used to be called “capitalism.” South of the border, they called it “the American dream.”

Globally, income inequality is falling, with a growing middle class in Asia and South America. Here in Canada, people tend to start out poorer and gain wealth as they get older. On the evidence, it seems the less state control of the economy, the better.

Affordable housing: This is a favoured term of politicians, because they can make it sound like almost anything. What it really means is subsidized housing, probably subsidized by you.

Social licence: This is a favourite of professional protesters, and others who like to pretend they speak for all of society. It allows them to declare, without evidence, that a years-long scientific review of an industrial project is “flawed” in some undefined way because protesters continue to appear on TV.

What it really means is that democratically elected governments and division of authority between local, provincial and federal levels don’t matter any more.

Climate change: This has replaced the more restrictive “global warming.” Like affordable housing, it means whatever politicians want it to mean. It covers snow, flooding, drought, whatever. As with inequality, “progressive” governments must “fight climate change” with ever-increasing state control.

Harm reduction: This is the “progressive” alternative to drug addiction treatment. Rather than treat what correct-thinking persons agree is a disease where the patient has no control over his or her choices, government offers free needles, housing and food.

It doesn’t so much reduce harm as spread it and encourage it, by relieving people of personal responsibility to make better choices.

Social justice: This is not to be confused with ordinary justice, where people get what they deserve. It is where the state takes income away from those who earn it and gives it to those who don’t. See also inequality.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Victoria Police, BC Transit educate drivers on bus lanes

Cops pull over commuters using Douglas Street bus lanes

Sooke 10,000 Tonight food drive a massive success

More than 16,000 items collected in four hours

More storms brewing for Greater Victoria

Police warn drivers and pedestrians to use precaution during expected rain and winds

Esquimalt man arrested for child pornography

42-year-old man’s residence searched by VicPD units on Dec. 5

EMCS Wolverines off to slow start

Wolverines start season 0-2

Cannabis gift ideas for this holiday season

Put the green in happy holidays, now that cannabis is legal in Canada

Woman forcibly confined, sexually assaulted between Creston and Cranbrook

The suspect forced the woman into her vehicle before driving along Highway 3

‘I thought I was dead as soon as I saw the gun’

Keremeos gas station attendant tells story about man with gun coming to store

John murder trial at Duncan courthouse on pause until spring

John is charged with the May 2016 murder of 20-year-old Derek Descoteau

Lantzville councillors give themselves 45-per cent pay raise

Council pay increase to take effect in 2019

‘People talk about deep sadness:’ Scientists study climate change grief

Some call it environmental grief, some call it solastalgia — a word coined for a feeling of homesickness when home changes around you.

As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes.

Senate delays start of sittings in new home, delaying start of broadcasts

The Senate and House of Commons are moving into temporary homes for the next decade as a result of long-planned and badly needed renovations to the Centre Block.

UK leader seeks EU lifeline after surviving confidence vote

EU leaders gather for a two-day summit, beginning Thursday, which will center on the Brexit negotiations.

Most Read