I spoke briefly last week about the ‘retreat ‘ by the Federal Government to New Brunswick. As I write these words they remind me of a military retreat ; back from the battle, and in some ways this symbolically is what is happening . All the plans, many of which I wrote about , are now so much fluff as to look almost hilarious. And it is not like it was difficult to see the economic train come barreling down the highway. But those are the ways of the political process , spin, and promise the impossible and if you say it with a straight face people will believe you. I mean we just get tired of the same faces and even if they forgot more about economics than this new crowd might ever know , so be it.
And now , of course, per usual , the talk is all on infrastructure . Oh, this is the great solution to our present economic malaise. Just pump out the money . And all the fancy stuff those mayors can list as essential, otherwise the sky will fall. As if this has not been tried endlessly since the Diefenbaker years . I remember all the new post offices. They did not make the mail run any better and it surely just made for more unemployment insurance. No long term economic benefit here, my son.
No one will face head on our productivity problem . When I mention it , I am being anti Canadian . See you just can’t say Americans work harder than Canadians, because then they can’t be our whipping boy, our straw man. But, the fact is we are only about 70 % as productive as the Americans . And this has been so for many years now. Some Canadian’ experts ‘ try and cherry pick a given niche to show how great we are doing . But this masks the overall issue.
Linked to this is our r and d performance . Our industry does not adapt as quickly and as well to r and d as the Americans and the amount we spend on r as a per cent of our GDP is less than in the US. And we need an overhaul of our education system so that profit re enters our language , and private enterprise is respected. And economics and basic political science are taught in our high schools . Throw in some effective, efficient apprenticeship programs through private sector , education institution arrangements and you might be moving in the right direction. If you look at the present Alberta, BC disagreement on transporting oil one sees , we just don’t get it. Meanwhile , free trading oil from the US is on its way to Europe. Of course, some regulatory efficiency , and nimble tax measures would also assist.
So , so if we are really serious these are the areas we need to emphasize not throwing money willy, nillly on an dubious economic model , to appease local narrow political interests .