Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big Government Canadian style and the right questions

When political parties give up their principles, bad things happen. Of course once in power, the operating principle of almost any political party becomes hold onto power - damn the principles.
In Canada if you belong to the Conservative Party then you know the truth of that last statement.
This morning in the Globe and Mail, Tom Flanagan points to just three issues (I think there are so many, many more) that have created unnecessary debate and discussion, all of them related to the Conservative government's increases in the size and responsibility of the state.
Issue one: the Jaffer-Guergis affair involving alleged lobbying of the federal state to garner subsidies for "green" businesses. Flanagan dismisses the affair then asks the right question: why has a conservative government created a $1-billion Green Infrastructure Fund? Why indeed? Here is a giant plum ripe for the picking by lobbyists and insiders who would scam their own family for financial gain. How is creating this fund being fiscally responsible or conservative?
Issue two: Abortion in the Third World.
First let me say this to those who think abortion should be banned in Canada or anywhere. The only banning that should go on is your power to force anyone to do anything against their will as long as no one's rights are abrogated. If you think a fetus has rights over and above the mother that is carrying it, then you need to take that fetus and bring it to term yourself, good luck. Or should we lock up that pregnant female and force her to carry the fetus? Would you do that to your daughter? The current law in Canada on abortion is the one that is appropriate, that is, no law.
Now that you know my position lets see what Mr. Flanagan said. The Conservative government refuses to fund abortion in the health care part of Canada's foreign aid package. This angers many at home and abroad (including Hilary Clinton) and threatens to become an issue in the G8/G20 summits coming to disrupt your summer plans in Southern Ontario this June. Again Flanagan asks the right question: why is the Conservative government promoting government-to-government foreign aid? He points to scholars that have shown that government-to-government foreign aid (except for immediate disaster relief) actually impedes economic growth and good governance in the Third World. I hope Stephen Lewis reads Flanagan's article.
Issue three: Gay Pride. The Conservatives have decided not to fund this year's Gay Pride Parade in Toronto while continuing to fund a variety of other parades and festivals across the country. Is Harper pandering to the homophobic part of the Conservative Caucus? Probably, but again Tom Flanagan asks the right question: why should the federal state subsidize any parades or festivals anywhere? How is that being fiscally responsible? Well, it isn't and it's too bad that Flanagan stops at three, but it is a start and I recommend the article to you. Flanagan ends by suggesting that today's economic realities will of necessity shrink the size and scope of government, I can't wait.  


  1. Many times governments will 'seed' a new industry that ends up creating a very large industry - take the internet. Governments 'seeded' its development and once some infrastructure was established (mostly military and universities) a huge private sector field grew with jobs and money flowing. A Green Infrastructure Fund is neither a good nor bad idea, what we must do is cast a skeptical eye to ensure the project will become an industry that ends up creating jobs, money and higher living standards.

    For example, the government could seed the electric car industry by subsidizing the creation of charging/battery replacement stations in certain areas of Toronto and in a bedroom town, such as the Newmarket area. Once people know they can reliably commute in an electric car (with huge savings over gas) this should eventually create private electric car stations as demand builds. Thus the government's seed money could create a new industry hundreds of times larger than the original investment.

  2. Its true that the US Gov. DARPA had much to do with the GUI on computers and the internet. But much of that was done via private contractors like BELL, GE, Xerox PARC etc. I suspect that would have happened anyway sooner or later without government "assistance".
    The Green Infrastructure Slush Fund is a way for the Conservative government point to its contributions vis-a-vis global warming - its political pandering and its open to abuse as is almost any government "fund".
    As far as electric cars are concerned, a libertarian society would have had them long ago. The Ontario gov. (a seed killer) virtually destroyed a local electric car manufacturer called ZENN by disallowing their cars in the province.
    All these "misallocated resource funds" will eventually be reduced once our governments decide they do not want to follow in the steps of the collapsing Eurozone economy as we head into part two of the Great Recession.
    Look at the news, the writing is on the wall, the aging boomer population - all of them "entitled to their entitlements", the shrinking tax base - the never ending demands on government.......How long do you think it will be before governments decide to do LESS?