The big crush 

Small increases have a big price tag

Feeling the pinch? How about the squeeze? Or is it more like a crushing sensation?

Personally, I'm going with "crush." A pinch is something like the price of gas going up - you can feel it, but it doesn't hurt much and it doesn't leave a mark. A squeeze could be the price of gas going up on one side and property taxes on the other, leading to mild discomfort accompanied by a temporary shortage of breath. Again, it's not life threatening.

A crush, however, is an entirely different bag of doorknobs swung at your knees. It's the cost of absolutely everything going up faster than our stagnant wages - for private sector, middle class-types anyway.

This isn't a gentle coaxing of toothpaste out of a tube, it's a hammer blow that empties the container and smashes the tiling on your bathroom counter in the process. This is a draining of wallets that didn't have all that much left to drain; a systemic, full-body, full-strength crushing of all our hopes and dreams. This is the race to the bottom, 100 miles an hour.

What am I raving about, you may ask? The simplest answer these days is "Everything!"

How about property taxes increasing by 24.5 per cent over the past four years (and my total bill by well over 30 per cent once fees are factored in)?

How about a BC Hydro proposal that could see our rates increase by as much as 32 per cent by 2014? Or that two-tier pricing system BC Hydro introduced a few years ago that disproportionately impacts people who live in colder areas of the province, such as our mountain town?

How about pay parking and the higher cost of fuel if you drive - and rising transit costs if you decide to leave the car at home?

How about HST adding additional taxes to products and services that were previously exempt?

How about increased Medical Services Plan rates?

How about increases to CPP and EI payments in our federal taxes?

Study after study shows that wages have pretty much stalled in this country, and may actually be moving backward. The 2006 census showed a decline in the median wage for B.C. income earners of 11 per cent over 25 years, the biggest drop for any province in Canada. In 2007, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a report that suggested that productivity per worker is well up, though workers haven't seen much, if any, benefit salary-wise since the early '90s. And a Vancouver Sun story from December 2010 proclaimed that B.C. workers would see their after-tax income shrink the most this year of any province other than cash-strapped Ontario.

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