Sunday, December 18, 2011

Apocalypse Now

Today we're going to tackle the issue that everyone's thinking about. The big one. The ticking debt clock. And if you're a regular reader of this webspace, you probably know what I'm going to say about it, but let's just get it out there anyway because that's how we do things here at TCAM.

The fact is that a lot of Principled Conservatives did not vote PCPO in October. Because, so they said at the time, the PC's were not serious about tackling the deficit. They were unwilling to make big cuts to health care and education, and because they didn't, any sort of cuts they were willing to make was just so much tinkering around the edges.

The problem with this argument is not *just* that no other conservative politician, or any politician of any stripe, has been willing to talk about seriously cutting healthcare and education. The problem is that any cuts of any sort are, as far as the Canadian public is concerned, completely unacceptable.

You probably heard the story about how Toronto city council was mulling cuts to after-school meals for kids as part of the battle to get the budget under control. The Toronto Star promptly wrote an article featuring pictures of worried-looking kids who may or may not have been hungry as a result of this cut. Doug Ford tried to defend the cuts, offered to pay for the meals out of his own pocket, was roundly condemned for it, eventually backed down, and the Toronto Star gloated. The Star gets results!

Because nobody wants to end up squashed by the Toronto Star like the Ford brothers have been recently, the past two or three election cycles can be boiled down to the Liberals accusing the Conservatives of secretly wanting to cut things, and the Conservatives accusing the Liberals of secretly wanting to tax things. It all becomes a lot like a game of There Ain't No Flies On Us, and as a result voter turnout goes through the floor because people don't want tax raises, and people don't want cuts either. Both of which, by the way, involve taking money away from people. And who wants to give up more money than they should?

The Ontario Liberals feel that they can stay in government forever by invoking memories of Mike Harris. But weren't the Harris cuts needed at the time, and aren't they needed again? The reason why the Harris boogeyman exists is because people have some vague sense that the cuts went "too far." Dalton says he's probably going to have to make cuts himself, but those cuts will be nice progressive moving-Ontario-forward Liberal cuts, so that makes them OK. Unfortunately for Dalton, if his cuts amount to tinkering around the edges (and I believe that they will), then he'll be right back to where he started except he'll have less people willing to vote for him.

So let's stop kidding ourselves. Nobody in this country and possibly nobody walking the planet has the stones to make the types of cuts the Principled Conservatives want. If each and every one of these Principled Conservatives were given the opportunity to make these cuts, and they were confronted with pictures of weepy-eyed kids with trembling lower lips who would be *hurt* (*sniffle sniffle*) as a result of these cuts, every single one of them would go "D'awwwwwwww!!!" and cough up the cash.

As such, the financial apocalypse is a stark inevitability. It's only a question of when, and whether what follows will be better, worse, or identical to the 1930's, and what came after the 1930's.

And it's going to happen because the Canadian public, like the Greeks, like the Italians, like the Spanish, and like the population of every single developed and developing nation who thought the party was going to go on forever, think the problem can be successfully blamed on someone else. Which is why, after the financial apocalypse has hit and its effects have wiped out a generation or two, people will blame free trade, or big corporations, or the Greeks, or whoever, and the cycle will start alllllll over again.

So why vote Conservative?

Because Hudak *wants* to make the cuts but he can't because of all of the above. The conditions have to be right for him to make the cuts. McGuinty doesn't want to make the cuts because he's afraid of the voters being mad at him, but he's being told by Drummond et al. that he has to. If the Liberals will not make the cuts themselves because they're afraid of the reaction of spoiled voters, then we will have the moral authority to force cuts upon these people, because at that point it will be either real cuts or total collapse.

I have begun to respect the way the Ontario Liberals manage to twist themselves out of one crisis after another. But they cannot win. They cannot succeed where every other government on the planet has so far failed. I don't believe it.

Merry Christmas.


  1. A cut the Conservatives and NDP can climb aboard is the incredible $30 billion in industrial subsidies Ontario pays out each year. (The federal government spends the same amount across the entire country, which is still wrong, but gives you an idea of the scale and scope of the problem).

    The PCPO can vote for cutting on principled grounds that the $400+/taxpayer can be better spent by the taxpayer to choose the best and most efficient companies. The NDP can be for the cut because they are against corporate welfare.

    Both parties can be for the cuts since they remove a source of political payouts from McGuinty to his crony capitalist friends, and thus hampers the Liberal's fundraising and reelection efforts.

    True it wouldn't be as big and effective as a cut to healthcare or education, but it will be a pretty impressive victory and make a real dent in the provincial budget. Worth trying.

  2. When ever I hear or read about taxpayers paying for lunches I look at it as one more nanny state vote buying scheme that is driving Canada (in our case) down the economic drain. I did not come from a wealthy background but my parents and us kids when we were old enough worked hard to get by. Where has that attitude gone. No one including government payed our way.

    Rob c

  3. i hope you have a Merry Christmas. that said, not one government since the second world war has cut the growth or cost of government and there is no serious attempt at this point in time. canadians have been lining up at the trough all my life. anytime something has any effect on them the first question asked is, what is the government going to do, not what can i do or we do. old white guy