May 27, 2009
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am concerned that governments in the US and Canada are using the current economic malaise (and our associated fear) to temporarily increase the size of governments. Of course, in this context, temporary is defined as permanent.
Here is one Opinion piece and one Comment piece from Canada`s National Post. They`re both worth a read.
No doubt, there is a role for government in society. However, when I drive through downtown Vancouver and see prime downtown real estate owned by the federal government, I ask myself, “should a federal government be in the property devleopment and managment business?” My answer to this is a resounding “no”.
Governments, in my view, shouldn’t run surpluses, nor should they run deficits. They should aim to have balanced budgets. If there is an excess of revenues over expenses, return the cash to taxpayers in the form of reduced taxes. If there is a surplus of expenses over revenues, reduce the size of government.
Unfortunately, governments drink their own kool-aid and believe in their own destiny to right society’s wrongs. In areas like protecting our borders, extending a helping hand to those who truly need it, enforincing the rule of law are all areas where government can have a very positive impact.
Owning and running gas companies, rail roads, real estate, airlines, insurance companies and power producers are not areas where government is best equipped to participate.
I am volunteering on the current provincial election campaign in British Columbia. I decided to help out because I think this is likely the most important provincial election during my adult lifetime. For those of you who know me well, you know that I have been saying this for about a year now.
Tomorrow is election day in British Columbia and we have two choices. One takes us forward and the other takes us backward. One will ensure pragmatic management of our province’s finances, the other will squander them through populist leadership and ingrained special interests. One will expand upon eight years of rebuilding, re energizing, refocusing and re-establishing British Columbia as a leader in Canada.
I am a third generation British Columbian was born in Vancouver in 1973. I went to elementary and high school here and have attended both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. I’ve boated our entire coast and driven a lot of the province as well – as far north as Prince George and as far east as the Albertan border. I’ve worked in small business most of my life having owned two of my own.
British Columbia is a great place – indeed, it is the best place on earth. I believe that fervently.
The only time in my life when I felt I didn’t belong in my home province was in the 1990’s. It was a time when, for the first and only time in our province’s history, British Columbia became a have-not province – our real GDP per capita was $4040 less than Canada’s. It was a time when record deficits were run and our province’s debt load ballooned. It was a time when our income per capita was more than $500 less than Canada’s. And while we as taxpayers were making and keeping less of our own money, it was also a time when our money was squandered on pet projects like the BC Ferries fast cats. Those were dark days for BC.
Where are we now?
1) We are in the grips of a worldwide recession.
2) Our baby boomers are aging. The leading edge turned 62 in 2008 – that means they are going to start retiring, earning less income (and paying less tax) and consuming more services, particularly health care services.
3) Our health care system is stressed.
4) Our universities are struggling under the pressures of deteriorating endowments from thew economic downturn.
5) Our forestry sector, particularly in the northern region where Rebecca and I maintain a home, is dealing with the devastation of their crops with the mountain pine beetle infestation.
But with all this there is a sense of optimism. Notwithstanding our current pressures, British Columbians believe our future is bright. Why? In part, it’s because of the resilience of the people of our province. But I also believe it’s because our provincial government has managed our affairs well.
When I look around and the see the kinds of capital projects our province has been able to undertake even in these difficult times I’m amazed. The Sea-to-Sky highway, the Olympic Oval, the new Skytrain infrastructure, the Port Mann bridge project and innumerable road and highway improvements all over BC (I know, I’ve driven it). We see a BC Ferry operation that has seen remarkable improvements (with boats delivered on time and well under-budget), a port in Port Alberni that is growing leaps and bounds, an airport in Prince George that now has one of longest runways in North America (allowing it bid for the valuable air freight traffic that currently stops in Alaska) and I could on.
With the current government we have leadership that understands there is “no such thing as government money” and we have leadership that has the experience and the track record in successfully managing through difficult economic circumstances.
These are my thoughts. The most important thing to me, though, is that you vote in tomorrow’s election.
Exercise your franchise and make your choice!