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Long on discussion, short on political action:Pension reform protests outside a meeting of finance ministers in PEI in 2010. (ANDREW VAUGHAN/The Canadian Press)
Long on discussion, short on political action:Pension reform protests outside a meeting of finance ministers in PEI in 2010. (ANDREW VAUGHAN/The Canadian Press)

THE CONVERSATION

Dec. 21: This week’s Talking Point – no to enhancing the CPP – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

HAVE YOUR SAY

What’s ahead for 2014?

If 2013 was a who-smoked-what, who-spent-what, who knew-what roller-coaster, what will the coming year look like?

Tell us who, what or where will define the next 12 months and why you think so. We’ll publish a section of responses in the Focus section.

letters@globeandmail.com or go here

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s blunt no to Canada Pension Plan reform until the economy is stronger has readers, print and digital, delivering some blunt messages of their own

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It’s a mistake to view an expanded Canada Pension Plan as some sort of handout. For years, people – hard-working people – have depended on private employer-sponsored pensions. The defined-benefit plans have unsustainable deficits; defined-contribution plans are yielding low returns for anyone due to collect benefits.

It seems to me that a publicly run CPP would be superior to the patchwork quilt of failed plans out there.

Wayne Forbes, Grand Falls, N.B.

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Re Flaherty To Savers: You’re On Your Own (editorial, Dec. 17): Your editorial does not contain evidence as to why the Canada Pension Plan is a good deal for contributors, nor does it offer an analysis of the cost to taxpayers.

Please explain how it is a grand bargain for those who contribute more than $100,000, and for the beneficiaries of those who die preretirement and receive the plan’s maximum death benefit of $2,500? “Actuarially sound” is chilling comfort, as pension actuaries make a myriad of assumptions that need to come true over decades in order for these promises to be fulfilled.

The great irony is that the same day that this editorial was published, the main story on the front page of the Report on Business outlined the fiasco surrounding Canada Post’s defined-benefit plan and its $6.5-billion unfunded liability.

Larry Langley, Halifax

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty makes absolutely no sense by saying that people cannot afford to have more money taken off their paycheques, then insisting that we should be saving more. If we can’t afford to have more money taken off our paycheques, then we are not exactly in a position to be putting money aside for unreliable RRSPs – especially considering how much we are taxed to pay for the retirements of our public servants. It would be nice to have Mr. Flaherty’s pension.

Celena Scheede-Bergdahl, Montreal

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I just hate it when a servant of the public, who will walk away with an indexed golden parachute providing for his needs for the rest of his life, says: Too bad folks, you are on your own.

Ron Thibodeau, Toronto

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Wouldn’t it be great if Jim Flaherty and his Conservatives showed as much compassion for the huge majority of private-sector workers without pension plans, as they do for their nightmarish Conservative pal Rob Ford?

Don Scott, Victoria

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On the one hand, the Conservative government is telling us how well they manage the economy and that we are in great shape. On the other hand, Jim Flaherty is telling us that the economy is not strong enough to enhance the CPP. What is even more surprising is that it will not be strong enough by 2016 or even 2018. It seems even the Conservatives don’t believe their propaganda.

Jim Burke, Woodstock, Ont.

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I am so sick of hearing about all the things we cannot do as a country due to the “fragile economy.” This is the line for everything when it comes to the social contract the Harper government has with the people of Canada. It is not washing with me any more.

Between 1940 and the end of the 1960s, Canada created and instituted three great social programs that lifted the people of Canada: the Canada Pension Plan, medicare and unemployment insurance. All through that time, the economies of the world were in flux, just as they are now.

We are stuck on a conservative agenda that has most of the money going to fewer and fewer people. Jim Flaherty could leave a lasting legacy in the battle against poverty by doubling the CPP.

Brendan Shields, Vancouver

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I’m with Jim Flaherty on this one. Taxpayers – that’s us folks – will have to pay for any CPP improvements. Industry is bailing in Ontario – more than 30,000 jobs lost this year alone – and the province wants to bring in a new mandatory pension scheme.

Really? I mean, really?

Eleanor White, Toronto

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With the loss of so many good middle-class jobs that promised good pensions, the only way to go is for the government to provide a decent pension at some point. When a sizable portion of the population has either a part-time or temporary job, how can you acquire a good pension?

Douglas Gray, Hamilton, Ont.

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CPP benefits and (unfortunately) CPP premiums must be increased now. What could be better for the economy than to have more senior citizens able to get out and about, buying goods and services?

If we don’t want to saddle employers with more payroll costs (good point!), then pay what otherwise would be their share of any increase in premiums out of general federal tax revenues.

If corporate tax rates can’t be increased enough to cover the additional “employers’-side” CPP premiums, then increase progressive personal income tax rates at the upper levels, as may be necessary. (Yes, progressive personal income tax rates at the upper echelons are, and always have been, a good thing, not a bad thing.)

John F. Fagan, Toronto

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ON REFLECTION More letters to the editor

Ashley Smith: a Canadian tragedy

Re Teen Who Strangled Herself A Homicide Victim, Jury Finds (Dec. 20): Ashley Smith was shuffled from place to place, treated like garbage, and taunted by the very people who were supposed to protect her.

Is there any wonder she rebelled? Is there any wonder that she preferred death to her so-called life?

Ashley’s story is truly a Canadian tragedy.

Sheila Dropkin, Toronto

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Wired-up future. Shiver

Re Healthy, Wealthy: How Fitness Apps Will Save Cash For The Active (Dec. 20): An adviser on the digital health-care industry invites us to imagine a world where each of us has “a fully wired-up home and body.”

Forget dystopian fears of a future where wired-up humans are harvested for their energy by a race of intelligent robots. The Matrix is so 1999.

With advisers offering encouragement, apparently the real future will see wired-up humans harvested for health and fitness data by insurance companies. Where’s my red pill?

Paul McFedries, Toronto

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$950-million is not enough

Re NEB Clears Path For Northern Gateway (Dec. 20): The condition that Enbridge must carry $950-million in liability insurance is ludicrously inadequate.

BP has already been faced with more than $42-billion in charges for clean-up costs, fines and compensation related to the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Who will guarantee Enbridge’s inevitable damages and clean-up costs?

Simon Renouf, Edmonton

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Death by Yule decoration?

Re Design (Dec. 14): Dee Dee Taylor Eustace ponders why people feel it is okay do their own decorating when they’d never perform open-heart surgery on themselves. Interesting analogy in an answer to a question about decorating a front porch for Christmas.

While I can appreciate the stress of Christmas decorating for some people, I’ve never found it to be a life-or-death endeavour. And the answer to why people do it – because it’s fun. Sometimes, what comes from the heart trumps what comes from design school.

Kirk Szmon, Toronto

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