A spectre is haunting Canada — the spectre of an election. The Liberal Party has started releasing ads to counter the Conservative ads, and the media is on all fours ready to take it in. And what better way to kick-off the election season than a speech by Michael Ignatieff. Last Monday Iggy spoke to the Liberal caucus, candidates and other Party members, signifying that the Grits are ready to replace Harper. Despite the rhetoric, the funny faces Iggy made while speaking French, and the synchronized clapping and chanting (1984, anyone?) – the Liberals had some concrete plans. Let's examine why these plans are stupid.
During the thirty-minute speech at some points I couldn't tell if I was listening to Jack Layton or Michael Ignatieff. I should have counted how many times Iggy said “Canadian families” but alas, I didn't. And there's no way in hell I'm wasting another thirty minutes of my life by watching that again.
After a few town hall meetings, Iggy proudly spoke for all Canadians in declaring that “we” want the simple stuff. Canadians don't want big government or intrusive government, but a government that will put the “ground under our feet.” Presumably, Iggy was talking about the social safety net that increases at the expense of individual freedom.
The concerns Canadians have, according to the Grits, is that there is less job security and lower standards of living than there were five years ago. The future generation is staring unemployment in the face and pensions are more or less of a pipe dream. Out of left field came the idea that when old parents get sick, Canadians should take time off of work to look after them. Apparently the Canadians Iggy were talking to were expecting a paycheck despite not being at work.
This is the “simple stuff” the Liberals want to address. What makes the Grits more qualified than the Tories or the Commies is that they don't govern by fear and ideology. "The Liberal Party is the party of facts, evidence and statistics," said Iggy. Apparently logic and reason take a backseat.
Here are the Liberal solutions to this “simple stuff” followed by my conclusions to what kind of Canada these policies will actually bring. First off, child-care:
Iggy said that Canadian children need to start off life right, and the best way to do this is through investing in child-care. Do you see where I confused him with Jack Layton? It sounds like the Liberals are advocating Universal Daycare, the socialist scheme that the previous Grit government cooked up with Layton and his Commies. Fortunately Harper knocked it off the table (but instead gave money to parents to spend on beer and popcorn).
There are some major problems with the Grit proposal. For starters, children raised in day-cares are statistically worse off than children raised by a mother or father (and this is supposed to be the party of statistics). But even without the “evidence,” if one thinks through this process it becomes obvious that most children would rather be raised by a parent than by strangers. To make matters worse, a Universal Daycare system would have the State raising the children. At least currently private daycares have an incentive to deliver consumer satisfaction (whatever it may be), but under State sanctioned daycare there aren't any market incentives to regulate the care of the children. The State decides what's best for kids.
To sum up child-care: The Liberals advocate having bureaucrats raise your children.
Next is post-secondary education. In his speech Iggy used the word “borrowing” which, if it means exactly what I expect it to mean, the Grits advocate giving money to students and schools. I've written about this before here, and here. In a nutshell any money the State spends on post-secondary education is only going to raise the costs of post-secondary education. It's the old rule everybody likes to ignore: the more the government subsidizes something, the higher it's going to cost, the higher the costs, the more the government is going to subsidize it. It's a vicious cycle that only ends when young people decide to opt-out of this process.
To sum up post-secondary education: The Liberals advocate higher tuition costs and more debt for students.
The Liberals want to take fear away... I'm not exactly sure what Iggy meant by this. He accused Harper of making Canadians fearful of refugees, immigrants and the census. I guess this could be taken to mean that the Grits approve of more State meddling that give the illusion of safety at the expense of personal freedoms. I don't like Harper, but to my knowledge he has never tried to make Canadians “afraid of the census.” He merely pointed out how intrusive and coercive it is to involuntarily give up that information. It's one of the few good things Harper has done in the last five years.
To sum up “taking the fear away”: The Liberals advocate security over freedom.
The Liberals oppose any private plan that makes “bankers and insurance salesmen rich.” This is another instance where Iggy sounds more like Layton by ignoring basic economic logic. Of course private pension plans make banks and insurance companies money – why else would they provide those services? In the market of voluntary exchange, there is always mutual benefit. Any private pension plan that is making the before mentioned rich beyond their wildest dreams is probably coming from some kind of State intervention. So what is Iggy's solution? The Canadian Pension Plan.
The Liberals are in favour of a public pension “for every single Canadian.” Meaning, the State is going to force you into a pension plan you might not want, and if you oppose it, a man with a gun will come to your house and kidnap you. Anybody with half a brain can clearly see that the CPP is an unsustainable ponzi scheme. Retirement for baby boomers is not going to look like what they've envisioned their entire lives. There is no easy solution, just the pains of realizing that the State has been lying and can't provide jack-shit. In the long run, the best solution is to abolish this government thing and allow the free market to provide pensions.
To sum up pension security: The Liberals advocate ignoring fundamental problems and insist that the solution is to take more of your money off your paycheck.
Last, but not least, is the Family Care Plan the Liberals are talking about. Declaring that “we're all in this together” Iggy talked about taking time off of a work to take care of a sick family member. “We'll cover your back” said Iggy, “we” being the taxpayer. I'm still looking into this Family Care Plan to examine how absurd this policy is, but in Iggy's speech, all he mentioned was this hand-out by the State to cover taking time off of work. There are far better solutions than coercion including, charities, insurance and the basic act of just saving for a rainy day. Some may consider it “unfair” for Canadians to work like a dog to cover their parents medical expenses, but there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, Canada. Life is unfair, get used to it.
To sum up this aspect of the Family Care Plan – the Liberals advocate stealing from everyone to benefit a few looking for a hand-out.
There's plenty more to Iggy's speech including his declaration that Canadians are “citizens of the world” and that the economy of the 21st century “better be green.” Of course the Liberals want to help out with this by protecting resources they cannot protect in any efficient way, reduce energy costs in an unspecified manner and greening up households by giving money away. “We will help you” was Iggy's basic message on how to turn Canada green. Once again “we” being the taxpayer and the debt future generations are inheriting.
Iggy went on about creating jobs, claiming that corporate tax cuts will do nothing and that “investing” in education is the best method. Both ideas aren't exactly magic job creators, but the Tory plan (tax cuts) beats the Grit plan (education) by a long shot. As I've explained too many times: State funding of education only drives up the price. And there's no guarantee that education will even create jobs. Sending more kids to school won't increase the number of jobs, it will only increase the number of graduates trying to get the same limited supply of jobs. Somebody has to be the janitor, all Iggy is promising is that the janitor will have a Liberal Arts degree.
Bashing corporations, talking about helping out “Canadian families” and blaming Harper for the fact that for every dollar earned, Canadians on average owe $1.50 – this speech was just the same old bullshit we've all come to expect from politics. Despite the last point, there was no mention of the shitty job Mark Carney is doing.
There was nothing new. Except for this startling observation by Michael Ignatieff. It's his own “simple idea”. The core of everything he believes about politics (and no, it is not the gun in the room).
The reason we have a successful country, according to Iggy, is not because we have natural resources (which is a bold faced lie), it's not because Ralph Goodale gave us a good banking system (another bullshit answer), and it's not because Paul Martin's handling of our public finances (laughable if it wasn't so sad).
The secret of Canada's success is because “we are an equal society”. And the problems Canada faces arise because “we are less equal now.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the Grits road to serfdom. Far from being the classical liberal ideology their name indicates, the Liberal Party is teetering towards the nonsensical socialist ramblings of the NDP.
Finally Iggy ended his speech saying that this Party and election are “not about you, me, him [Stephen Harper]. It's about the people who put us here.”
And by people he must have meant Paul Desmarais.