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NDP gives up on taxes

Re: Prepare to get hosed (Jan. 9). As a group of retired senior professional and businessmen we condemn the position taken by Education Minister Nancy Allan when she declared that the government will not order school divisions to freeze tax rates. We feel that she did not take the time nor make the effort to realize the far-reaching effects this message to the school divisions will have on property owners and especially on senior citizens. The fact that education taxes are attached to property tax bills, rather than being paid from general accounts, already presents a burden generally on property owners, but specifically on seniors. In our group, where some members are now in their early nineties, many of our seniors have been continuing to pay education taxes for 30, 40 or even 50 years after their children have left school. This, together with the current economic conditions, creates additional hardships on such seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes (incomes fixed decades ago).

Last year, former education minister Peter Bjornson made an effort to freeze school taxes by offering $12.4 million to divisions that would not raise taxes, or to use some of the $60 million surplus that was there. This year, Allan seems to have disregarded any possible ways to hold down a further increase, and just leaves it up to the school divisions. Our group strongly condemns this procedure and invites other senior groups and all seniors to join us and speak up.

Issie D. Oiring

Retired Seniors Professional

and Businessmen's Club

�ñº

I agree homeowners are going to get hosed this next tax season due to the recent assessments. Other terms could be fleeced or mugged. With declining enrollments, there is absolutely no reason why there should be an increase. The only ones to benefit are school unions and administrations. And, of course, they are supporters of the NDP, so the present government will not prevent the upcoming gouging.

Of course an easy out will be to blame the school boards, even though education is a provincial responsibility. Personally, I believe all education funding should be handled through the provincial tax system and not by homeowners. But, again, since the NDP has spent like drunken sailors and Manitoba is so heavily into debt, that is not likely to happen either.

Les Isaacs

Winnipeg

Boxing is a sport

Re: TV for gamblers, thugs (Jan. 9). I agree with Ross Wedlake and his views on poker and ultimate fighting. However, boxing has been considered a sport since the time of ancient Greece and Rome. It was confirmed as such in the early 1900s when it was introduced into the Olympic Games.

It may be violent, and it may not even deserve being referred to as "the sweet science," but a sport it is nevertheless.

Don Orloff

Winnipeg

�ñº

Ross Wedlake says the television networks have a responsibility to not promote violence, gambling or anything that may be deemed negative. It's up to you, as parents, to teach your children the difference between right and wrong. Relying on television to teach your kids is simply a lazy way of parenting. As parents, you should be preparing your children to be able to deal with the real world by teaching them morals and values that will allow them to make the right decisions.

What's the next step? Remove movies and television shows that have violence or even an underlying negative tone? I guess if that is the case, most media, including news coverage, should be removed because we don't live in a perfect society and violence does occur in all of our communities. If parents would just do their job and stop blaming everyone else, then maybe our society wouldn't be full of "thugs and gamblers."

Kevin Breiter

Winnipeg

A modest wage proposal

Re: Business groups reject hike to minimum wage (Dec. 26). I am sure that Shannon Martin is right when he says that businesses are struggling in the current economic climate. However, that does not give them the right to exploit workers; nor should they expect employees to subsidize them with cheap labour. The workers are also suffering in said economic climate, and struggling just as hard as their employers, and maybe even harder.

Even for those minimum-wage workers lucky enough to have full-time jobs, $9 a hour is not a living wage. An extra 25 cents an hour is an increase of only $10 for a 40-hour week. What unnecessary luxuries can $10 buy?

Unfortunately, many, if not most minimum wage jobs are part-time, and they offer no security. When business is slow, workers are sent home early, or given days off without pay. Any hourly worker who takes a sick day loses a day's pay.

Martin's reason for an end to minimum wage increases, namely that it should be done because of government deficits and a poor economy, rings hollow. For the past 10 years, in good times or bad, every time there was an increase, the CFIB has proclaimed the imminent end of the world. Their protests this time are the same knee-jerk reaction. To date, the world goes on.

I propose a solution to the problem. Let the CFIB set the minimum wage rates; but first make sure that all the CEOs and managers involved must also live on the wage they set for the workers, for an indefinite period of time, without recourse to savings or assets or outside help of any kind, other than soup kitchens and food banks, just like the workers. Be prepared to renegotiate the terms whenever the poor CEOs decide to do so. It shouldn't take more than a week.

Martha Owen

Pinawa

The abuse of PhDs

Carson Jerema points out the glut of PhDs (Too many overpaid PhDs, Jan. 11) but does not correctly identify the cause. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are used as low-wage, temporary labour by universities in order to staff their laboratories and classrooms. Thus the number of PhDs reflects the current needs of the short-term labour market rather than long-term employment prospects for PhDs.

The solution is obvious: require universities to use fully qualified, permanently employed research and teaching assistants while coupling the number of graduate students to the anticipated permanent employment market, as is done for medicine. This would, of course, impose an additional cost on universities, so no action is taken and the glut continues.

BRUCE MAY

Winnipeg

�ñº

I was a bit surprised to read Carson Jerema's somewhat myopic valuation of doctoral studies. Surely, as the holder of an MA degree, he is aware of the essential nature of graduate study; i.e., pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. Treating degrees as commodities is not only fruitless, it demeans those who passionately believe in the pursuit of an ever-evolving understanding of the human condition. We are all called to make contributions according to our gifts, be they in the form of athletic excellence, interpersonal sensitivity, spirituality, scientific acumen, and so on. Let us hope that as a society we may continue to support those who undertake the arduous and often-times underappreciated role of scholar.

Edwin Buettner, PhD

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2010 A11

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