Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things that shouldn't happen when your Prime Minister is an "economist"

It's true; Big Steve has a MA in economics from the University of Calgary. It's available for your perusal online if you care to look for it. It doesn't necessarily reveal a lot about Harper other than the fact that even at a relatively young age he was obsessed with the machinations of power. Of all the directions one's interest in the dismal science could take, you obviously need to be a power-junkie-in-training to research correlations between deficit financing and election cycles.

My morning Globe and Mail had two stories that I found relevant to Harper's education. The first is the Statscan debacle regarding last week's release of flawed employment numbers. That has impacts on everything from interest rates to currency exchange rates to how long Buddy who just got laid off will have to wait for his pogey cheque. In other words, it matters.

Consistent with the Harper government's across-the-board policy of keeping Canadians in the dark, no one is allowed to tell us the nature of the mistake. Instead, they're working hard on "fixing" the numbers and will release the do-over tomorrow.

Typically the dismal scientists doing the number-crunching at Statscan will have way more behind their names than MAs from the University of Calgary, so why the shoddy workmanship? Could it be the result of the Harper gang's obsession with defunding frivolous research in all areas of the social sciences? And of course, when you have all the answers to begin with, all research becomes frivolous.

The other story concerns the government strategy of stemming the supposed unsustainable losses at Canada Post. As a society we have been bamboozled into believing that the postal service should be run like a business. Insofar as that is true, and the business is struggling to compete, would the business model not demand a downward adjustment in pricing and improvement in service in order to recapture market share?

The fact that the Harper government is doing exactly the opposite signals that their true intention is to allow Canada Post to atrophy. Eliminating home delivery and doubling the price of stamps is a strategy to wind down the post office, not build a foundation for its survival.

Treating essential services as though they were a business is profoundly wrong to begin with. Like health care, education, national and local security, postal service is a public good that by definition cannot be fairly evaluated on the basis of whether it turns a profit or a loss. The asinine comments by Canada Post boss Deepak Chopra to the effect that he is cutting home delivery to appease the many seniors who have been deluging him with demands to deliver their mail to a community mailbox blocks away from their home, so they can get some exercise, just adds insult to injury.

Oh, it's a crazy Orwellian world, this land 'o Harper is!

No comments:

Post a Comment