Simplicity would sort out ICBC

Simplicity would sort out ICBC

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Legitimate explanations are being offered for how ICBC “got away” on us (yes, the Liberals did “milk” the system), and what I view as non “solutions” are being proposed to make amends (yes, the hero on the white horse of privatization rides again- check out health care in the US for how that one works).

I don’t know if our NDP-Green alliance will effectively unravel the ICBC mess, but simplicity, clarity and consistency are almost always the best way to correct what has become complicated or serious wrongs.

One thing should be abundantly clear at this point: It is near suicide for public accountability and public (taxpayer) dollars to let the public service or a Crown corporation operate without being subject to public direction, supervision, and censure via annual review and court sanctioned access that allows the public to moderate and, if necessary, challenge and correct decisions.

No fault insurance rates (and repairs) are synonymous with a bright red flashing “help yourself” neon sign in the dark of night, not only to the public service/Crown corporations (in this case ICBC), but to those who characteristically exploit weak or blind regulatory processes that make citizens vulnerable – the wealthy, those that don’t give a damn, the irresponsible and shady operators, and yes, auto repair services. It’s a gift to those who very easily can, and those who can’t, pay – let the “middle” absorb the tab. It’s also obscenely unfair to the majority. Today’s ICBC should be all the evidence we need.

Vehicle repairs would become a competitive business. I’d like to see ICBC establish a chain of repair shops that operate on a public-interest-first non profit basis and are accountable to the public for costs. This would still be less costly than what we have now, and it could (stress, could) be managed to set the bar for the private sector.

But the main solution is simple, clear: You, the driver, pay based on your behaviour. This will seriously tax, but necessarily reform, existing ICBC operations, primarily because the thousands of employees there would no longer just hand out repair and driving renewal slips as though all drivers were equal. No more fairy tale “equality!”

Some people are going to end up not driving – society has to re-establish that it’s a privilege to drive, not a “right” – and severe penalties have to be dealt to those that violate that understanding. And finally, and importantly – poor, irresponsible and dangerous drivers would finally have to pay their own way because they’ve tread on the honest and safe good-driving majority once too often.

Individual, corporate and government accountability to the people and regulations that protect citizens in B.C. have been stigmatized as “interference” or “big government” or “red tape.”

People are getting irritated by smug bureaucrats and political appointees managing (and making) decisions “for us.” We did our part – we tried to fix that during the last election by forcing a change of people at the switches.

Now, it’s up to John Horgan, and “our” government, to fix the ICBC fiasco. The path seems clear!

Dr. Brian L. Horejsi, Penticton

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