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Monday, September 06, 2010

AG to provide evidence against ‘stimulus spending theory’

It is widely believed that Auditor General Shelia Fraser’s report will demonstrate that stimulus money was distributed on a political basis. This wouldn’t be a difficult conclusion to reach; the theoretical work was already done by a certain University of Calgary Masters student. Politicians will naturally favour their own supporters in their decisions. That is how governments come to power and stay in power.

The opposition parties will make lots of political hay out of this report, and rightly so. But the reality is that they would have done the same thing. Perhaps to a lesser extent, or maybe even to a greater extent, but they would have certainly done the same. The problem is not with the particular party in power but in the system.

You can’t fix the system either. The root of the problem is human nature. Even if you try and be objective in your decisions you will likely subconsciously favour the person you like/supports you. There is a natural bias in every government, and changing the ruling party has only ever succeeded in changing the direction of the bias.

The solution is simple: do not give politicians or officials this much money to spend. Power tends to corrupt, and the only true way to prevent corruption is not to give power. There is no evidence that the deficit spending helped the economy. All that it did was provide the government with an opportunity to redistribute our tax dollars to their supporters.

So instead of using the AG’s report to decry the shamefulness of the Conservative government, we should look at this report as one more piece of evidence that Canada’s experiment with ‘stimulus’ spending has failed.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on September 6, 2010 | Permalink


"But the reality is that they would have done the same thing. Perhaps to a lesser extent, or maybe even to a greater extent, but they would have certainly done the same."

Maybe not. It seems to me that it would have been more logical, politically, for a government in a minority government position to spread more funds into ridings it doesn't hold. Its quite different in a majority situation,because by definition, if you spend money on ridings you hold, you are spending money in over 50% of the country, population wise.

So the Tories are just doing it wrong.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2010-09-06 10:08:23 AM

Hugh, I strongly disagree with your take-home message. I don't care what the Liberals, NDP, or Bloc would do were they to be the government that spent the money: they WEREN'T the government that spent the money.

The fact that other people might have done a given crime in the same circumstances is not a defence in any free country. Do the crime?: do the time. The Conservatives "had a choice, sir", and they KNOWINGLY and WILFULLY made the wrong one.

I, for one, can tell you that, were a federal Freedom Party of Canada to have been the government during the same period, in the exact same circumstances, it would NOT have tried to "stimulate the economy" (which quoted term is just weasel speak for "redistribute wealth from those who earned it to those who did not"). To say something equivalent to "blame the gun, not the gunner" is a slap in the face to every party that would NOT have ripped off the earners of this country with a "stimulus spending" fiasco.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2010-09-06 10:24:43 AM

Paul, Hugh is saying that it's pointless to pile on the cons because the problem is systemic and none of the other parties in parliament would do differently. He's right.

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-09-06 11:57:07 AM

Cytotoxic, I agree with you.

bigcitylib, logic has nothing to do with it. Nor does common sense. The ONLY driver is what a party thinks they need to do to get, or stay, in power. If spending money in a riding is viewed as a waste because the chances of winning it are slim then they won't do it. If they want to strengthen a riding they have, or feel they can win one over by spending money in it, then they will do so.

Posted by: TM | 2010-09-06 12:54:25 PM

Cyto: No, no, I understand the point. I disagree with it. "The system" is not at fault, any more than guns kill people. And if the other parties in the legislature would have committed the same crime, that does not imply that *any* or *all* political parties would do so. Neither argument - i.e., "the system made me do it", or "you would have done the same thing if you were me" - is a just reason not to "pile on" the conservatives.

Piling on the conservatives does not imply that one is approving of the other parties. They not having been in government, they can neither be praised nor condemned: there is no governmental act for us to judge.

In reality, the "don't be so hard on the conservatives, they're not to blame/they're no worse" line is nothing but a implicit defence of the status quo. It is not as though other political parties wouldn't do something were the apologists simply to turn their backs on bad parties and begin working for, or otherwise supporting, good ones.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2010-09-06 12:57:03 PM

In the above post, "It is not as though other political parties wouldn't do something" means: It is not as though other political parties would not do things better.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2010-09-06 12:59:01 PM

The system doesn't make people do what they do it just selects for those that do these things. Hey, FWIW I will absolutely not vote Con. This just isn't the reason why. And to say the other parties have no past record is just wrong. It's they're for everyone to see-balanced budgets and reduced taxes under the Liberals.

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-09-06 7:15:12 PM

Cyto: Of course the other parties have a history. I agree. I didn't say otherwise. My point was that the government, alone, has the power to decide whether or not to stimulate the economy. One cannot blame the NDP, Liberals, or Bloq for the stimulus spending, even if we all know it's exactly what they wanted done...because they did not make the decision that made it happen.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2010-09-06 7:33:05 PM

In the minority government situation we have in Canada today, the opposition parties do bear some responsibility for the stimulus package, inasmuch as they brought tremendous pressure to bear on the government to engage in this nonsense. The Conservatives, being the government, bear most of the responsibility for what happened.

The task of defending themselves might have been made somewhat easier had Stephen Harper not decided to buy into the whole "stimulus is good" package deal. Unfortunately, that is exactly what he did when he decided to blame the free market for the financial meltdown. Harper is just lucky that the opposition parties are such a pack of hypocrites on this issue; otherwise they could have a field day with it.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-09-06 9:29:37 PM

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