Some home truths

gwyn-morgan_250x350Gwyn Morgan, who is a pretty distinguished Canadian businessman and who has enjoyed a successful career earning and managing money for himself and others, suggests, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail,  that we, especially the political classes and the “chattering classes” ~ the likes of e.g. Gerald Butts and Jeffrey Simpson ~ ought to remember that there are three harmful myths in our society and he suggests that we all ought to stop believing them.

Mr Morgan’s myths are:

“Deficit spending makes people better off

One has to look no further than Europe to see the folly of this myth. Deficit spending means borrowing money.

And as debts rise, investor confidence falls. This leads to lower credit ratings, which translate into higher interest costs, leaving governments with no choice but to adopt severe austerity budgets that slash social programs.

This very scenario played out right here in Canada from 1968 to 1984 when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister.

Public spending rose from 30 per cent to 53 per cent of GDP, driving the deficit to more than $32-billion ($66-billion in 2015 dollars) and increasing the national debt by more than 700 per cent.

Canada’s international credit rating collapsed, taking the Canadian dollar down with it. By 1981, Canada’s bank prime lending rate had reached an incredible 22 per cent, causing personal and corporate bankruptcies while stifling private investment.

Canada was transformed from one of the world’s financially strongest countries into an economic basket case.

It would be two decades before tough fiscal discipline was able to stabilize and begin to reduce Canada’s real dollar debt.

Canada has one of the world’s best health-care systems

Year after year, international surveys show the opposite. A 2014 Commonwealth Fund report found the performance of our country’s health-care system ranked well behind that of Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. And a 2013 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report found that, despite spending 36 per cent more per capita, Canada has the longest wait times for elective surgery. Tellingly, Canada is the only country that forbids access to private alternatives to our overwhelmed and underperforming monopolistic government system.

Wind and solar power can lead to a “fossil fuel free” world

This is a prime example of the long-known propensity for people to believe almost anything if you repeat it often enough. Nowhere was this tactic employed more vigorously than at the recent COP21 global warming conference in Paris.

But wishing and hoping for something doesn’t make it a reality. As Galileo famously said, “In questions of science, the authority of thousands is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” It doesn’t take an exceptionally gifted mind like Galileo’s to know that the sun doesn’t always shine and that, outside of the tropical latitudes, the days are too short and the sun angle too low to generate much solar power. Or that power cannot be generated at night when it is actually needed. Similarly, the wind doesn’t always blow. This unreliability requires solar panels and windmills to be backed up by other generation facilities and these are mainly fossil-fueled. Adding to those physical realities is the fact that wind and solar facilities are fiendishly expensive, as demonstrated by Ontario’s disastrous green-power subsidy program that more than doubled power rates while yielding small amounts of energy. Likewise in Germany and Britain, after hundreds of billions in publicly funded subsidies, wind and solar power constitute a tiny, unreliable source of electricity.”

All three need to be near top of mind for Conservatives.

Let us keep reminding Canadians that while we understand that going into debt, now and again, is necessary and, sometimes we can borrow to make long term “investments,” as a general rule balanced budgets are a sign of fiscal responsibility. We, Canada, don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. We spend too much. There are some things upon which we really ought to spend more ~ like our national defence ~ and that measn we must spend every penny more wisely. Every spending programme has its own “cheering section.” Every programme, every agency, every department of government that I might want to trim or cut out entirely “serves” some vested interest or another. I’m not suggesting that we go into campaigns says that we are going to slash and burn our social programmes, but I am saying that we should promised, better, more carefully focused, smarter spending even as we also promise balanced budgets and tax cuts.

Over the decades our provincial governments have been careless with our Constitution. They have allowed, sometimes even asked the national government to intrude into areas that ought to be wholly provincial in nature. One of the greatest intrusions ~ done, I hasten to add with provincial approval, even connivance ~ was the Canada Health Act. It all started in the early 1960s, under Prime Minister Diefenbaker and it gained impetus when he, Diefenbaker, appointed Justice Emmett Hall to lead a Royal Commission on Health Care. Hall recommended that, with provincial agreement, the national government should “share'” the costs of health care. The project gained impetus under Lester Pearson and then, under Pierre Trudeau, we got the Canada Health Act which has resulted in a chronically underfunded and over managed health insurance scheme that produces poor health outcomes for a (relative to other OECD counties except the USA) high cost. We, Canadians, always make the mistake of comparing our health care to that of the USA. We, Conservatives, should stop doing that: let’s compare ourselves to Australia, France and Singapore all of which have universal health care insurance, all of which have better health care “outcomes” than Canada and all of which have cheaper health insurance scheme than does Canada.

By all means let’s be green ~ greener, anyway, than we are commonly painted by the media and the Liberals. But let’s also be sensibly green, prudently green, conservatively green, as befits a big, sparsely settled, cold country.

In other words let us stop telling fairy tales and offer Canadians some good, hard headed, common sense truth … in my opinion a lot of them, enough to put us back into government, will listen to, hear, understand and support such a narrative.

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