Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Win an election on a spending cut platform?

Here in British Columbia we have yet to hear from a political party with a small government platform. Maybe that's because politicians worry they wouldn't get elected if they openly and honestly said what they were going to do. But experience right her in Canada shows it is possible to promise to cut government spend and get elected, and get re-elected.

During the 1992 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race, Ralph Klein promised to balance the budget in four years, reduce the size of cabinet and implement a balanced budget law. He went on to win the 1993 election with 44.5 per cent of the vote and immediately reduced the government cabinet from 26 to 17. He then eliminated the gold-plated pension plan and introduced the Deficit Elimination Act.

Klein didn't stop there. He then:
  • Reduced government spending by 20% over four years
  • Reduced MLA salaries by 5%
  • Achieved a 5% rollback on bureaucrat salaries, including unionized bureaucrats.
  • Cut health care spending by 6.3%
  • Cut kindergarten funding in half
  • Reduced municipal grants by 47%
  • Removed university tuition caps
  • AND Cut 30,000 from the welfare rolls.
By 1995, Alberta had its first balanced budget in a decade.

So, was Klein universally despised and decried throughout the province? Was he tarred and feathered? Was he run out on a rail? 

No, he had a 73% approval rating and was re-elected in 1997, 2001 and 2004.

With proper planning and follow through, a clear honest defense of limited government can, and will, be rewarded by voters.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Art subsidies violate free speech

The Federal government announced it would no longer give the SummerWorks Theatre Festival in Toronto any more money. This is good news and we should applaud any government effort to cut back on subsidies to business, any business, including the arts.

That's because art, like any business, should live or die by providing a good or service that people want.

Government shouldn't subsidize businesses because if forces people to pay for things they don't want.

But there is an even bigger reason why government shouldn't subsidize the arts. Art is the expression of ideas and using tax dollars to support ideas people disagree with is immoral and violates their freedom of speech.

Politicians should be fostering fellowship, not strife. One group shouldn't be abused to fund another.

If artists cannot get people to voluntarily buy their wares, then taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for it -- and the artist should keep his day job.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fat and the nanny state

I read an article the other day suggesting government force chip manufacturers to put pictures of morbidly obese, bed-ridden slobs on a bag of chips. The writer was making a satirical comment on cigarette packaging, but this is a point we should flesh out a bit.

The nanny state has become an essential feature of the social and economic ideology of our times.

But before we let government take over all of our most basic decisions, even about what to eat,  we really need to ask ourselves:  is it the role of government to force people to do something as long as someone else thinks it's good for them. Is it really OK to force "the good" as defined by someone else, down peoples' throats?

One of the things I often hear from supporters of a government solution to every problem is that the government has an obligation to stop people from getting too fat because in our socialized medical system, the cost of people eating whatever they want falls to the taxpayer. But people engage in risky behaviour all the time and that costs the taxpayer too.

If we accept the idea that government can arbitrarily decide what we can and cannot do, the door opens to unlimited government interference in our most basic personal decisions.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Regional district spending is out of control

If you feel like you are paying more but getting less, it's in part because you are paying for the lifestyle of someone else.

Find out how in my article in the Province newspaper here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why is socialism still so popular?

Why would the NDP want to keep socialism in its charter?

Because a lot of voters still think socialism is a good idea. Socialism's defining myth is voters can get something for nothing, all they have to do is vote for the NDP.  The NDP left out the part about how everything we consume has to be produced. Just because voters want something doesn't mean they have the right to just take it away from the producer. It also doesn't mean this taking is can go on forever.

Those plundered aren't too happy about it, and they react. When what is left to take starts to fall but what voters want to take continues to rise, voters, who were told that votes somehow create things to take, aren't too happy either. The politicians get worried about losing the next election and are then forced to ration. Rationing is unpopular but the usual scapegoats, such as greedy businessman, Arab oil sheikhs, the rich or bad weather will be dragged out to justified it. It's never the government's fault.

When rationing doesn't work anymore, those who are still able to produce must be motivated to produce more for even less. Eventually, they must be forced to produce -- they are enslaved.

How can socialism lead to the collapse of a nation?

Voting produces nothing.
Force produces less and less.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Unplug electricity self-sufficiency strategy

Premier Clark's family first agenda has sent the energy minister, Rich Coleman, off to review what's up at BC Hydro. What's up, besides massive salaries and crumbling infrastructure, is a dimwitted policy for electricity self-sufficiency. 

The government is forcing B.C. Hydro to make the province self-sufficient in electricity production by 2016, just five years away. By 2020, Hydro must be self-sufficient - in the worst case scenario. In other words, BC Hydro has to be able to produce all the electricity we need each year, plus an additional 3,000 gigawatt hours of energy, above and beyond the basic requirement. This means most of the time, we'll have a lot of electricity generating capacity sitting around unused.


In fact, electricity self-sufficiency is one of the political mandates driving electricity rates up by 50 per cent over the next five years. It would probably be a lot less costly for Hydro - and families trying to make ends meet - to continue importing power to meet peak demand instead of having all this infrastructure sitting around.

Ironically, the BC Liberals go on and on about how they are a free-market party, but self-sufficiency comes right out of the communist handbook. 

Self-sufficiency is an old fashioned and discredited economic theory that used to be supported only by the loony left. For some though, no policy seems too loony these days. The government is telling us we need to be energy self-sufficient and what this will magically do is let us take care of the environment at the same time. To take care of the environment, the government is increasing taxes on energy and channeling subsidies and tax breaks to companies that meet its definition of green.

What people here need, though, is not energy self-sufficiency, but energy security - the ability to buy energy whenever we need it. If we build a big supply of subsidized energy projects, we pay higher taxes, waste tax dollars, and could make people a lot worse off. For example, Spain, the country often heralded as the model of green electricity generation, now has an unemployment rate hovering around 20 per cent.

Self-sufficiency could reduce our energy security and anyway,  energy self sufficiency makes no sense for B.C. B.C.'s electricity grid is integrated with Alberta and the western United States. So it very easy for us to buy and sell electricity - to trade. In fact, BC Hydro's trading arm, Powerex, makes billions of dollars every year trading electricity. A lot of that money goes back to government general revenue. Economic growth and all the benefits that come with it will allow us to continue to import energy to meet domestic demand if we ever do have a supply shortage. The government's focus on energy self sufficiency is a step backward  and --  in fact -- contradicts its commitment to free trade.

We can have energy security if government gets out of the way and lets economic growth increase the wealth of the citizens of B.C. Energy self-sufficiency will not provide us with a secure, reliable supply of affordable energy. Don't be fooled and let fear of a lack of energy let government get back into the business of subsidizing businesses in a losing attempt to pick winners.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feedback from readers

People who are concerned about big-spending government responded to my article in the Province.

Check out today's Province letter page. Pick up the paper or read it here

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We want better, not just less bad government

Fewer and fewer voters head to the voting booth these days and one reason might be they have no real choice.

British Columbia has two parties competing to deliver more, to more people, but people know big spending leaves the province with a legacy of deficits and debt, which translates into higher taxes later, no matter which party does the spending.

The B.C. Liberal government goes on and on about how they are different from the NDP, but how?

Are they better or simply less bad?

Read the whole story in the Province newspaper here.