Friday, January 18, 2013

Is Stephen Harper's government fiscally conservative?

Writing for the QMI Agency (and published in the Toronto Sun) Michel Kelly-Gagnon asks this question. He grades the government's actions with a "pass" or "fail." Although I mostly agree with his fails, I disagree with his passes for these are not "good economic policies from a free-market perspective." Observe:

Pass: Gradually raising the qualifying age for pensions from 65 to 67. In 1966, Canadian men who had reached the age of 65 could expect to live another 14 years. Today, it's 18 years. For women, it's 17 and 21 years. We are also healthier and doing work that is less physically demanding. It's only normal that we work a little longer before we start receiving pension cheques.
There is nothing free-market about a pension scheme that a) requires a monopoly forcing money from people and b) requires participation, whether you consent to it or not.

Fail: Spend, spend, spend. Program spending was $175 billion during the last year of the Liberal reign. This year, it's about $250 billion. This government keeps spending more, and is even getting ready for another stimulus plan should the economy tank again. Also, the number of federal employees has reached a new high and their compensation has outpaced private employees. No wonder Jim Flaherty seems incapable of quickly getting back to a balanced budget.

I don't think Flaherty would be capable of balancing any budget, as his Ontario record indicates. Regardless, I agree with this "fail" grade. Every government spends more than the last one. Even "conservative" Alberta has a spending problem.
Pass: Abolishing the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly. About 80 agricultural marketing boards hold a monopoly on the marketing of specific products and, in some cases, restrict production through supply management. This raises the price of agricultural products, to the detriment of consumers. More fundamentally, is it morally acceptable to force producers to sell to only one officially recognized buyer? Ottawa should abolish all other marketing monopolies.
Is it morally acceptable to force individuals to pay for one officially recognized governance agency? Ottawa should abolish itself.

Fail: Not clarifying foreign investment rules. Although it finally gave its OK to the purchase of two Canadian oil and gas producers by state-owned enterprises from China and Malaysia, the government said it was unlikely to approve such deals in the future. It's inconsistent. Shouldn't shareholders be the ones who decide who they want to sell their shares to?

Shareholders should decide that. There should also be no corporate welfare. Something Harper evidently doesn't agree with.
Pass: Adopting C-377. With the Rand formula, unions have what amounts to a power to tax their members. In a democracy, transparency is the natural counterpoint of compulsory financing. This new law will impose new public reporting requirements, including annual financial statements, salaries paid to top union officials, expenditures over $5,000, and the amount of time spent on political activities.
Fail. The Rand formula assumes that without unions workers would be exploited by their capitalist overlords. The Rand formula makes union payment mandatory and prevents employees from opting out. Let's not beat around the bush, shall we Michel? Unions are owned by the mob.

1 comment:

  1. HAHA it's so true that this guy can't follow his own line of reasoning. If the Canadian Wheat Board Monopoly is immoral, aren't all monopolies immoral??? Including the State?