As I look forward to another year in Canada I get a pit in my stomach. Here we are with one of the best countries in the world and all we can do is keep screwing it up.
The problem is that we always want to take the easiest route. Our companies like to dig it up, catch it, grow it or cut it down. They like to ship it off to somewhere else. They do not like to process it into anything of more value. That is too hard. They just want the quick buck. Our population is the same. We don’t want to work hard, or even excercise. We are not big on saying no to our children or people who have an issue with anything and everything. We are happy trying to be like the Europeans and not like the US. As a result we have a country that is just not quite working anymore.
We like out entitlements. Taking a page out of the FAILING European socialist experiment we have set the bureaucrat as our ideal. Honest. A couple of generations ago the ideal was to be in business for yourself. That was where you could get rewarded for your hard work and intelligence. Then it moved to the banks. I can still hear my grandfather telling be to “…get into the banks. That is where all the big money is made.” Now we hear that you want a “government” job. How wrong is that? How can a country prosper when its citizens are striving to work in the public bureaucracy? I hate to tell you people, the civil service does not do ANYTHING to grow the economy. As its title states, it is a service that is there to manage the funds that the private working stiff keeps having to give it at alarming rates.
A little course in basic economics. A country has to produce stuff. Stuff people want. Remember the barter system. Hundreds of years ago people traded stuff of value. You produced grain and needed meat for your growing family. Fine. Produce enough grain to have some extra after you fed yourself and you could trade that grain for a side of beef. Maybe. You had to have a good quality product and someone else with the beef needed grain, but it usually worked out. Villages and communities specialized production. One family would be known as the wheat people and another would be know as the milk people. Or whatever. Blacksmith, leather worker or mason. To survive you had to be able to produce a good or service of value that you could trade. AND you had to produce it at a level great enough to provide for yourself and trade for enough stuff to survive. This is important. If you didn’t make enough of your stuff to get what you needed you had a trade imbalance. When currencies came into being, this trading became simpler. People no longer had to trade for horseshoes with a balcksmith that wanted wheat ( or whatever it was you had to trade with ) you could now just sell your product to anyone, get the money and go buy what you wanted from the best supplier, or best deal. If you didn’t have enough money from your sales to buy what you needed you either borrowed or died. Neat huh. The borrowing was the trade imbalance. If you had money in the bank after you did all your production and buying and you were still living, that money was a trade surplus. If you were having to borrow to survive you had a trade deficit.
Canada works the same way. We need producers to make stuff that people in the country and worldwide want. These producers are the farmers, small business people, fisherman, lumberjacks, mill workrers, factory workers, miners, computer programers etc. You get the picture. Ever here of anyone striving to be a farmer these days? Or a factory worker? No, how about a miner? Hmmmm… so no one wants to do any of the things that we need to have a prosperous economy. Great.
If you plug a civil servant into the picture you can soon see that they really don’t do much to grow the economy. They suck money in and little comes out. At least not enough to balance. Remember the trade deficit. Voila. In ancient times it is hard to imagine a hard working village farmer walking up to the king’s tax collector and saying “Here, take these chickens and this grain, my family may go hungry, but I REALLY, REALLY need you to take my hard work and give it to the bureaucracy. Really. I’m not kidding. take them.” As ridiculous as that is, that is the state of Canada now.
Sure there are services that the country needs. Defense is a good one. Hard to say you are going to create a unique and prosperous society and then show the world you value it so little that you are not even going to try to defend it. Policing is another one, so is sanitation. We need these services and others. It is not correct to say that they need to produce a value equal to what goes in. They will come at a cost. Where we have gone wrong is giving these operations and positions more power than they deserve. An economy cannot have the positions that do nothing to contribute to its strength setting the benchmark in terms of prestige, wages and benefits. How can a private business suceed when they have to compete with the government bureaucracy in attracting quality employees? They can’t. It drives up their costs, deprives them of quality employees and as a result makes them less productive and competitive.
Many years ago I was doing a study in a mill town. Having lunch with the mayor one day, I mentioned how lucky he was to have such a large stable employer in his rural town. His reply shocked me. He wished the mill had never existed. It was going to be the death of the town and he didn’t know how to stop it. He was much smarter than I and he saw what was happening. The mill provided high paying union jobs. All the children in high school knew that if they played their cards right, they could get a job at the mill. So they didn’t bother to do anything else. Most didn’t even finish high school. Those that did, went off to university and never came back. There was nothing to come back to. Just the mill. Other businesses wouldn’t set up shop, since they didn’t want to have to compete with the limited labour pool coupled with the high wages paid by the mill. Being a lot younger, I didn’t take my lack of understanding personally. I just appreciated the wisdom of someone more experienced. It took twenty years, but that mayor’s predictions came true the day the mill shut down.
Canada is going in the same direction. We have a civil service bureaucracy that is growing larger, sucking more money out of the economy and through growing union contracts, making it harder for private companies to compete in the wage market. What happens when we finally reach the point where this Canadian “mill” has to shut down? Where are all the jobs going to come from? What will our children strive for then? A job hopefully. Any job. By the way, has anyone heard that China’s burgeoning economy is being driven in large part by its bureaucracy? Me neither.
Right now we have a civil service, and I am talking education and medical services here too, that wants more and more. They think they are “entitled” to it. Remember Mr. Dingwall, that paragon of public service greed that stated that he was “entitled to hi entitlements”? Those entitlements were hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance due to him as a result of his being let go early for doing a questionable job. Well people, it is wrong to expect any entitlements when it is the other members of society that are providing them to you. You may like to think that it is money from some magical government vault, but it is money that is coming out of the pocket of every person in this country who is producing something of value. Don’t go into your next union negotiation and tell us that we need to tax “big business” their fair share so that you can be fairly paid. “Big business” is not the enemy. They and their workers are the ones that are getting the short end of the stick. Ask any worker if their standard of living has kept pace with the standard of living experience by bureaucrats in the civil service. When they say it has gotten worse due to increased tax burden, ask them for more so you can get more entitlements. I dare you.
The enemy is not “big business”. The enemy is the bureaucracy. Canada needs to wake up and understand that it is a mill town on the brink of colapse.
Until then, I remain
A Sour Kraut