In his article today Andrew Coyne returns to his standard praise of the Harpercon government, this time praising them for a so-called renewed sense of purpose and a move away from a "guardianship" approach to government to one concentrating on "the economy."
First let me say that it is an odd tendency in political discourse to praise politicos simply for their determination or their sense of purpose. Government cannot, so Coyne tells us, afford inertia. However, Gengis Khan was never one to rest on his laurels and was always full of a sense of purpose. But I don't praise people simply for their determination, and am more interested in what they are determined to do.
The primary economic reforms that Coyne credits the Harpercons with recently pursuing are EI reform, Old Age Security reform, the pursuit of free trade agreements, etc. Coyne conveniently leaves out the destruction of unions.
The problem is that the agenda which this government has begun to pursue in economic terms is de facto a third-world agenda. Third World economies have traditionally been characterized by a number of essential aspects. These include and economy centered largely on some form of resource extraction, an extreme degree of income inequality ( with a small extremely wealthy group which holds all of the economic cards), a small middle-class, a lack of any form of employment insurance or state-sponsored pension system, sever restrictions on organizations of workers' solidarity like trade unions, deep ties to the ruling elite of a much more economically powerful nation (which often expresses itself in the form of undue dependence), little protection or investment in its own manufacturing or resource refinement, and little concern for environmental protection.
Does all this sound familiar? This is precisely the economic path that this government is pursuing with renewed vigor. Of course Canada is not, at the moment, a third-world economy. But with the Harpercons in office, this is exactly where we are headed. The income inequality is rapidly increasing, Harper is turning our economy into one that is almost entirely dependent upon resource extraction (with no development of increased resource refinement), there are increasing attacks on unions and the principles of collective bargaining, we are becoming ever more connected and dependent upon other nations like China, Harper is mounting significant attacks on EI and the public pension system, and he has entirely thrown out any pretence to environmental protection.
You don't have to be an economist or political scientist to understand that if our government has any real sense of purpose it is to turn our economy into a classic third-world system. The facts are simply unavoidable. The question of exactly why they are pursing this path is unclear.
Rather than praising our politicians for pursing one particular goal with a zealous spirit, we should condemn them when they blindly pursue an agenda that will guarantee disaster for some vague ideologically blind, quasi-religious reason.