Stereotyping the poor

Re. Lloyd Vinish’s letter Limit government effort (Castanet, March 24)

Boy, Lloyd Vinish sure has all poorer people classified—we're all drug users, over spenders and deserve to be poor. Yep, that's all the hard-working, lower class people in a nutshell. We are lazy and the government helps us out too much. We deserve to live on the street, all of us, because we can't afford a home. It doesn't matter if we have two jobs or not, it’s still our fault.

It's probably easier for him to sleep at night putting us all in the same category whereas, the few people like him, who worked hard for what they have but still enjoy a luscious life, are the victims.

There are a lot of people out there who have trouble making ends meet. They don't squander their money but have a hard time saving because the cost of living is extremely high. Despite working hard to feed their family, they still struggle and don't go around buying things they can't afford. And, they don't do drugs.

People like this writer set my teeth on edge. However, I don't want to sink to his level. We should all be extremely grateful for what we have and—especially those like him who are obviously more fortunate—quit complaining and maybe offer their services to those less fortunate.

I'm not talk about a free handout. I'm talking about volunteering, etc. Then they would have less time to complain.

We never know what tomorrow brings. Live each day to the fullest, try to make another person happy each day and perhaps you'll be too busy, enriched and wiser to complain.

Beverly Ryder


Booze tax hike will hit hard

Brace yourself for the biggest alcohol tax hike in the last 40 years.

The federal beverage alcohol duty, which was expanded recently to include domestic wine, is set to increase 6.3 per cent on April 1.

It appears that (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau will ignore an Opposition resolution passed by a majority in the House of Commons on Wednesday to cancel the increase and will proceed with raising the excise tax.

The increase couldn’t come at a worse time for B.C.’s independent wine (producers) who have endured recent calamitous climate change events, pandemic lockdowns, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions and soaring costs for everything from bottles to shipping.

On a litre of wine, the excise duty rate is increasing to $0.731 from $0.688, or a little over four cents. For a 750 ml bottle of wine, the increase would be closer to three cents. However, because the excise tax is imposed at the point of production and paid by the manufacturer (at the time of bottling or when product is removed from a bonded warehouse) there is a multiplier effect on prices ultimately paid by consumers.

The tax is built into the wholesale price of the product and magnified as it goes through the supply chain and LDB, LRS or Restaurant markups are applied.

Alcohol prices rose 5.7% in the last year, an amount higher than the overall inflation rate of 5.2%. The excise tax hike in April, along with other cost increases, could kick off another round of price increases this summer. Consumer demand as measured by volume is already shrinking.

Statistics Canada data shows even at the best of times, most small and under-scaled B.C. wineries (which is most of them) operated below profitability levels. Survival is getting tougher and tougher.

Many owners are approaching retirement age and looking for an exit. But current vineyard prices are exorbitant and with bank interest rates for loans to help fund acquisitions now reaching 7% or more, the pool of potential buyers in evaporating.

The mood at the recent industry Insight Conference was upbeat. But with growers awaiting bud break to assess the probably disastrous level of winter kill, I have no idea why folks are still upbeat.

I guess it’s just the fact you have to be an eternal optimist to survive in this business.

Al Hudec, Oliver

Limit government effort

Every day, Canadians make decisions that have a huge impact, either positive or negative, on their future lives.

Some decide smoking pot in a park is way more fun than going to Grade 9 math class. Later, they complain that minimum wage isn't enough to live on and that (Amazon founder and multibillionaire) Jeff Bezos is greedy and makes too much money.

Some decide to borrow money to buy a shiny new F150 pick-up truck and a boat rather than putting money into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Then, as seniors, they have insufficient funds to care for themselves and their families.

Some decide tattoos and piercings look awesome then complain when no one will hire them. So they go on Employment Insurance even though every company in the world has a "help wanted" sign out front.

Some decide to have sex without proper contraception and then have to face the consequences of an unwanted child and/or disease management.

Some decide to borrow money to go to university for a degree that will never lead to a decent job and then complain the government won't forgive their student loans.

Some elected officials decide to give raises and bonuses to government employees, in spite of lacklustre performance and poor service levels and who then threaten strike action for even more money and demand the "right" to work from home.

Some decide a new flat screen TV is the ticket to happiness and then complain when they can't find affordable housing.

Some decide to take a pill, a needle or a toke and then complain the government doesn't provide adequate health care or free housing for homeless addicts.

Some decide that just one more beer for the road won't hurt and then kill someone on the way home.

Those of us who paid attention in high school, who saved for retirement, who lived within our means (by saving for what we want and borrowing for what we need), who worked hard for our employers and for our families and who managed the use of alcohol and/or drugs in a responsible way are getting very tired of paying taxes to support those people who made, shall we say, different choices.

This may sound like I'm blaming the victim. Not at all. There are many people who are genuinely disabled or suffering unfortunate circumstances through no fault of their own. A truly caring society has a moral obligation to help them as much as possible.

But I don't consider the people making the decisions listed above to be victims. Maybe that's too judgemental on my part. Maybe I'm not as caring a person as I should be. Perhaps. But whatever happened to our grandmothers' lesson—“You made your bed, now sleep in it?”

I'm not saying I'm perfect. I, too, did some very dumb things at 17 years of age. But, I owned up to every one of those dumb decisions and dealt with the consequences responsibly. We shouldn't have to be judged throughout our entire lives for one lapse in judgement.

However, I'm not sure it's the government's job to constantly bail us out, either. Governments are typically not well-suited to such a role and they often waste a lot of time, energy and money trying to "fix the world".

They try to be all things for all people and often fail miserably, and inevitably get blamed for the effort. Instead, they should stick to their core roles - justice, security and property rights.

It just feels like there are too many hands in my pocket at a time when government debt, inflation, taxes and interest rates are weighing everyone down.

Lloyd Vinish, Kelowna


Unhappy with complainers

Re. Brian Kettle's letter Stop beach burning (Castanet, March 23)

The Okanagan seems to attract people who like to complain.

Of course it has its issues and weaknesses, and I have corresponded before to share my opinion of a few key issues, but I am writing to complain about the complaining.

The Okanagan has changed so much in a couple of decades. People used to flock here from other cities to escape the fuss, stress and drama of (bigger) city life. Long before the Coquihalla Highway opened, and the TransCanada became a much improved route west from Alberta, folks would come to the Okanagan for the beach life, the mountains, hiking and escaping daily drudgery. They would camp in the bush or rent some low-cost accommodation. It was a simple life.

Fast forward to the opening of those two high-speed routes and a different clientele started coming. They wanted more "bling" with their vacation time so they upped the game for the tourism industry. We got expensive golf courses, costly rental suites, and everything in general became more expensive and more fussy.

People wanted to sip cocktails at the fancy new beachfront restaurants rather than play in the sand and swim. They wanted to go to fancy wineries and pay exorbitant corking fees at fine dining establishments. Fois gras instead of smores.

They certainly didn't want beachfront fire pits (as Brian Kettle of Penticton writes) and various rabbles of common people gathered disturbing their sleep. So now everyone wanted to dictate to the local residents the direction that our communities would take.

We can remember the simple times of camping in the bush, hiking an untouched path up in the hills, partying on the beach, meeting strangers, cutting an ice fishing hole and cooking some burgers out on the lake, cutting fresh snowshoe tracks into no-man's land, making new friends and creating long lasting memories.

Now people come to visit the Okanagan or relocate here, and start complaining. Whether it's about fire or burn pile season, suburban deer, packs of coyotes, fire pits or bike lanes,

The main attractions of the region used to be the low cost and the easy-going, relaxed and carefree outdoor four-season lifestyle. That's what brought me here. The fantastic people I have met came mostly from those simple, primal experiences.

Now, they come for the world-class complaining. We can't go backwards. We can only go with the flow that is ironically called "progress".

I hope you have good memories of times gone by because sadly, that's pretty much all we have left.

Ricky Daytona, West Kelowna

No quick fix for unhoused

There has been a lot of discussion concerning the homeless (unhoused) in recent letters to the media.

Some suggest drastic measures be instituted, while others have a more compassionate point of view. I don't believe it's a problem that can be easily resolved. Why? Because there are several factors that should be looked at before any resolution can be reached.

First and foremost, I believe we, as a society, have enabled destructive behaviour that is detrimental to everyone. The theft of shopping carts, the desecration of our streams, lakes and city park lands by people using them as garbage dumps or as a place to camp is not acceptable behaviour.

We seem to have lost our social mores, that sense of what is right and what is wrong. Yes, some of the homeless have mental health issues, some have developed mental health issues as a result of drugs, while others have made poor choices due to personal circumstances.

It is not merely a matter of finding a home for these people because some absolutely refuse to be housed as they don't want the constraints or rules attached to the offer.

A mayor from Nelson once said “When did homelessness become a small town's problem?” Questions that need to be asked are, how did the numbers mushroom exponentially in smaller communities? Were they bused in and off-loaded? (If so) from where and why? Who is paying for all their cell phones?”

My concern and the most compelling factor is the hidden costs to the taxpayer, and it is costing us. There is no discussion or disclosure of costs regarding the time, personnel and equipment required to respond to drug overdoses (sometimes up to three times a day to the same person), the increased number of law enforcement officers or the increased number of security personnel or systems for businesses required to “manage” the situation. The list goes on.

Everything and everyone comes with a price tag and you can be assured it is being passed on to the taxpayer.

There will be no quick fix with the government only focusing on four-year terms, as few changes are ever made. The electorate has the power to ask for change.

We all make choices. What's yours?

Mary-Anne MacDonald, Summerland

'Problem too deep to fix'

Re.Bikes helping stop air pollution

China opens two coal-fired plants per week. It’s not a few people on bikes who will help with anything, short of virtue signalling.

The same people who want bike lanes also want snow-free, clean streets during winter. Guess how these streets are cleared? (With) dirty old diesel (plows).

The problem is not people's behaviour, it's the root principles and expectations of society. The problem is just too deep to be fixed.

Mathieu Rouquet, West Kelowna

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