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

Chief Clarence Louie earns induction to Canadian Business Hall of Fame

Osoyoos Indian Band chief recognized as one of the country’s most distinguished business leaders

Hang glider pilot rescued from Pincushion Mountain

Pilot was able to help guide rescue crews to her location

Town of Oliver receives award for annual financial report

The town’s finance department is being honoured by the GFOA

Penticton Hospital Auxiliary donates to mental health

Canadian Mental Health Association received a $1,000 donation from the Penticton Hospital Auxiliary

Balmy winter forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

El Niño is anticipated to develop later this winter

Video: New Penticton studio is a playground for creative types

We toured Penticton’s newest creator space

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Hang glider pilot rescued from Pincushion Mountain

Pilot was able to help guide rescue crews to her location

Thompson Okanagan potential hot spot for lung-cancer-causing gas

Kelowna public forum addresses excessive radon radiation exposure dangers

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external watchdog

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Most Read