Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Response to Richard Gwyn Responding to David Frum about Canada being the best-governed country in the world thanks to Harper.

Richard Gwyn, writing for the Toronto Star:
Canada is indeed in excellent shape these days... But none of this has anything to do with the budget or with the Harper government’s financial management since it gained power in 2006, nor with Harper himself.
Instead, the causes of our contemporary complacency are threefold:
 Mostly, it’s because we’re enjoying a commodities boom (as are Australia and Brazil), thanks to the almost limitless demand created by the headlong economic growth in China, India and elsewhere. Even an ineptly governed economy could do well, so long as it has spare rocks and logs and oil,

Canadian “staples” theory of economic development: allowing the Crown's privileged classes to extract environmental resources for global consumption and personal gain. Wealth “trickles” down to the citizenry, where it is taxed before it can be put to good use. Result: an elite class of Canadians parasitically living off everyone else in Canada.

 • Our national finances were put into good shape before Harper gained office. This was done in the 1990s by then finance minister Paul Martin. Keeping our financial books in order has now become part of Canadians’ national identity, sort of in the way our health-care system has long been, but may not be that much longer.

National identity. An eerie display of unconscious aggression, where propaganda-making masquerades as public relations to sell the concept of Canada.

 • Lastly, we owe a lot to our famously “boring” banks. In fact, they owe a lot back to the rest of us: In exchange for quite strict regulation they enjoy protection from foreign competition and permission to operate as — effectively — a cartel. As is all that really matters, they never go bankrupt.

I've bolded this one because I've never seen anything resembling the truth in the Toronto Star since... ever. Although wrapped in doublespeak, what Gwyn is effectively saying is that as long as the Canadian banking cartel (and with it, the entire political and merchant establishment) are protected from unwanted outside influence via Crown violence – they will never go bankrupt. Technically, he's right. They will never go bankrupt. Individual Canadians on the other hand...

The consequence of all of this is that all of our stars are now in a row, pretty much as they were for us after World War II when the Cold War created a huge demand for our resources at the same time that many of our competitors had been left bomb-shattered and bankrupt.

Toss out a few variables and ta da! A thoughtful comparison! Ignore the reality before your eyes: things are different now. Everyone and everything is heavily indebted. The only people making the big bucks on selling off Canada's resources are the same ones who are also profiteering on our indebtedness. This isn't 1945, Gwyn – It's 1984.

Ontario’s circumstances are radically different. As a manufacturing economy, it has to, in effect, compete with China, which is a far tougher challenge than trying to sell rocks and logs and oil to China.

For a 'manufacturing economy', Ontario needs to lose a few thousands of economic regulations. Also, stop using paper money. That'll allow Ontario entrepreneurs to compete with Chinese labour.

Add to this the burden on Ontario manufacturers of the high-priced dollar caused by the commodities boom and the revenues lost to its government because of equalization payments going from Ontario to provinces with lower unemployment rates (Manitoba’s rate is 50 per cent lower).

Jesus, Manitoba is worse than Ontario? Fuck, where the hell are our equalization payments coming from then? Newfoundland!? Forget the “high-priced dollar” shenanigans, Gwyn you need to read a book by a woman who lived in Toronto from 1968 – 2006 and has a day (May 4) dedicated to her. Her name is Jane Jacobs and the book is The Economy of Cities. She's not an Austrian; she's not an anarchist. She's actually pretty left-wing and I recommend her work for everybody.

The issue isn’t Ontario’s troubles, some self-generated. It’s the lousy governance generated by a quite unnecessary and mutually damaging squabble between a national government that’s having it easy and a major province that’s having it hard.

It is lousy governance! Since all governance is lousy we might as well throw out the whole concept and live in anarchy (seriously).

On reflection, there’s no doubt whatever the Norwegians do things better, including — this by an ever-widening margin now — the way they manage their oil industry.

Another Jane Jacobs reference! The Question of Separatism, the first three chapters, they're all about economic development in Canada and Norway. Go read it! Quick! It's probably at your local library*


1 comment:

  1. Society is divided into two parts. Makers and takers, its that simple.