Guest post by Doug Carrick
According to Stephen Harper, the coming election offers a choice between the certainty of Conservative economic expertise on the one hand…or the risk of Liberal or New Democrat inexperience. However, a closer examination reveals a different picture. It is the Conservatives who have the shaky economic record.
All his eggs in one basket
For example, instead of diversifying the economy, Harper has put all his eggs in one basket (the tar sands). Farmers on the prairies know all about diversification. To cover the possibilities of crop failure or an unexpected drop in market price, they plant a variety of crops – wheat, canola, legumes, oats, barley, flax, or some such mix. They know it would be disastrous to speculate on one crop…and be wrong! Harper has done just that with oil. An inexcusable risk that went wrong!
The Conservatives have tried to project the image of business expertise by showcasing a “balanced budget”. The Huffington Post examined this budget and listed “Seven Conservative Tricks to Faking a Balanced Budget”. It wasn’t balanced at all. In fact, the Conservatives hardly know what a balanced budget looks like. They have produced nothing but “deficit budgets” in each of the previous seven years. That is why our national debt has sky-rocketed in the Harper years.
Worst Canadian economic record since WWII
Harper warns us never to trust the spendthrift Liberals. Our memories are so short! It was during the Liberal years that the two “spendthrifts”, Chrétien and Paul Martin, reduced the national debt by an unprecedented $81 billion. Since then, Harper has increased the national debt by $176 billion – also unprecedented! Economic expertise?
His poor track record in economics has been confirmed by a recent study by two Canadian economists, Jim Stanford and Jordon Brennon. They conclude that:
[quote]Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are running the most poorly performing economy the country has seen since the Second World War.*[/quote]
Their study “examined the economic data from nine Canadian governments…using 16 indicators of economic progress, including job creation, Gross Domestic Product growth, export growth, household debt and real personal income.
“The Harper government ranked last or second last in 13 of the 16 indicators”, resulting in “a score of 8.05 out of 9, with 9 being the worst possible score.” Based on economic performance, the Harper government was rock bottom. And at the other end of the scale, “Lester Pearson has been the most successful prime minister, followed by Pierre Trudeau.” *
Child poverty, homelessness reach abysmal levels
But we hardly need such studies to prove their economic ineptitude. It is obvious. Under the Conservatives we have had more children living in poverty, more homeless people, more people depending on soup kitchens, and greater family indebtedness. Highly paid jobs have been replaced by low paid part-time jobs with no benefits. And young people despair of ever owning their own homes.
Most damning is their tax policy. They keep reducing taxation on the rich and on Corporations – forcing government agencies to reduce services to everyone else – thus creating more billionaires each year and more paupers. Good economics for the top 1%, but horrible for the rest.
Putting economy above planet
Even worse, is the Conservative policy of promoting the development of the Alberta tar sands at the cost of permanent damage to the world’s climate. The greenhouse gases created are causing droughts in the best farmland; are wiping out the glaciers and snow fields which are reservoirs for next summer’s water; are destroying forests (by diseases and fires); are destroying the oceans (by acidification and overheating); and are causing massive damage to islands, coastlines and port cities (by rising oceans and extreme storms). The harm done to people around the world is much greater than the paltry economic benefit to Alberta. Is this good economics?
Harper’s request for us to “stay the course” with the Conservatives is like staying the course with the Titanic. Contrary to Harper’s propaganda, Conservative economics is a disaster.
* Jeremy J. Nuttall, The Tyee.com, July 31 2015
Doug Carrick writes regular articles for the Hornby Island “First Edition”, the Denman Island “Flagstone” and occasionally for the “Island Tides” and other publications.