The “ineptocracy”

William Robson, who is the CEO of the highly regarded C.D. Howe Institute, writes in the Financial Post that “Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and economist Jack Mintz debated Canada’s competitiveness for business investment in Wednesday’s FP Comment,. Morneau said Canada’s competitiveness is good, and showed a chart to support his view. Mintz said it is bad, and showed a chart to support his view … [but, since] … Morneau is a former chair of the C.D. Howe Institute’s board of directors and Mintz is a former president of the institute … [it may] … help if the institute’s current president weighs in. And I say that Mintz is right. Canada’s relative investment performance is the worst on record. And growth-friendly tax changes are a key tool Morneau should use to improve the situation.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into the policy areas in which, one after another, the Justin Trudeau regime has made serious missteps: Jack Mintz did that a few days ago and his article is readily available. Put most simply the Trudeau regime has but style far too Bill Morneaufar ahead of substance and has acted as though the continental and global economic environment don’t matter. I do not doubt Bill Morneau’s skill or ability in business … I am seriously concerned that he does not understand or, worse, willfully, choses to ignore the well established principles of both macro-economics and international competitiveness. “Canada has a business competitiveness problem,” Jack Mintz said, and “We have low productivity and innovation rates, leading to suppressed worker incomes relative to the United States. We have a low private investment rate, resulting in less creation and adoption of technologies … [and] … Now, with new tax and regulatory reforms rolling out in the U.S., 2018 confronts Canada with a new competitiveness challenge. Money will flow south when investors feel Canada is no longer comparatively hospitable to investment

Mr Mintz demonstrated that the emperor has no clothes when he explained that while “It is great that Amazon has announced it will be creating 3,000 jobs in Vancouver. However, because of Canada’s inferior salaries, tech workers in Vancouver annually earn an average of US$60,000 (Toronto is only slightly better at US$61,000). In Seattle, Boston and New York, Amazon workers are paid over US$100,000. In U.S. cities, the labour market is only getting tighter. Many Vancouver tech graduates have trouble finding jobs so they have to take what they can get … [and] … Offering discounted worker salaries is not a way for Canada to be competitive. Nor is offering a discounted dollar. Competitiveness is attained when businesses want to come to Canada to compete internationally, even when our salaries and our dollar are high. That competitiveness comes through investment and innovation —and this is our challenge.

There are a lot of reasons for Canada’s poor competitive position, especially viz-à-viz the USA, and not all of them are political, but what we seem to have, in Ottawa, is something that someone on social media* described as an “ineptocracy:’

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I get that many, many Canadians were simply tired of Stephen Harper after nine years in office; I get that Thomas Mulcair was made, by the brilliant Liberal campaign team, to appear a lot like Harper 1.1 so, I get, that people bought Justin Trudeau’s promises of real change, including running small deficits for a few years and being liked again in the hallways of big conferences in New York and Paris and not dropping bombs on Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS; it all seemed so attractive. But, after two years of never ending (well not until my infant grandson is a mature man, anyway) deficits and nothing much to show for it (expect e.g. multi-million dollar payouts to Omar Khadr) and embarrassing photo ops in India and broken promise after broken promise after broken promise I think we have to conclude that we, the 40% of us who voted Liberal, anyway, made a mistake.

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* I cannot remember where I found this but a Huge THANKS to whoever made it.

 

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