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

MP Cannings’ long-awaited wood-use bill passes in House vote

The private member’s bill is his first to pass the House, a rare feat for rookie MPs in opposition

Flood 2018: What comes next

Most evacuation orders have been rescinded, and residents are starting to return home

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

VIDEO: Campers leave big mess at rural Vancouver Island campsite

Vehicle parts, garbage, a mattress, lawn chairs, beer cans, and even fecal matter left in the area

VIDEO: B.C. woman gets up-close view of Royal wedding

Kelly Samra won a trip back to her home country to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’

30 C in B.C., 30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada

It might be hot in B.C., but the rest of Canada still dealing with cold

Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day

Most Read