Wednesday, 22 June 2016 15:36

Status quo more comfortable, changes need explanation

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The bottom-line action of Keynesian theory of economics states when you have an economy which is stagnating or stalled, has high unemployment, for the short term, create government projects and spend your way out of it with more social programs, more work projects etc. 

 

Of course doing that,  a government can’t bankrupt itself and there would have to be an increase somewhere — generally a tax increase.  The way the Canada Pension Plan is calculated will be changed as the federal and provincial finance ministers have met to hammer out a new agreement.
With difficult and volatile economic realities both the Alberta and Saskatchewan provincial governments are trying to steer their way through it. For those who say that political parties no longer follow their historic or traditional lines of thinking, they may want to look at what is going on in both those provinces.
Like everyone else, those on the prairies want to have consistent employment and a good-paying job; roofs over their heads; a place where their children can get a good education and somewhere they can get medical care when needed.
Not too much to ask right? Most people realize when times are more difficult, everyone will be asked to do be patient and do more with less. It’s common sense, however paying more taxes is something many can’t accept, at least in Sask.
In a poll that just came out June 20 from the Mainstream Research for the Postmedia dailies in Saskatchewan, in that province, 71 per cent of people are opposed to higher taxes; 21 per cent are in favour of increasing the current sales tax (with 25 per cent undecided) and 63 per cent want cuts to MLA and government employees’ salaries.
Sask. Premier Brad Wall is sincerely considering selling off SaskTel which is one of the, pardon the pun, Crown jewels of the Crown Corporations. Asked about the sale, 39 cent of residents said they were in favour and 42 per cent against. That is almost unheard of in Sask. where crown corporations were historically borderline sacred, but there it is.
There are reasons for looking at selling it off in a privatization deal, but one of which is to make some quick money to offset the deficit the Wall government is incurring because of the budget.
While tradition is one thing, paying higher taxes is quite another, and like everyone else across the country, Saskatchewan residents have to survive day-to-day. Basic philosophy really. They already pay a five per cent sales taxes and fuel prices are generally higher than the neighbours to the west.
What Wall decided to do was to hold the line on taxes, cut programs and go into a deficit budget and hope they can make up the difference with fossil fuels in the future.
Conservative thinking — that’s the way it’s always been done.
In Alberta, the thinking is a little different. Before the election, Premier Rachel Notley seemed to be quite up front with the fact protecting the environment was a priority, yet here we are and the economy is bad and there is no letting up on the gas pedal, oops sorry, bad analogy.
The carbon tax has been announced and it’s coming much to the chagrin of those who can’t afford it. Sure, there is talk of rebates for people, but like the legislation itself — Bill 20 — there is not a lot of specifics available regarding compliance details, especially for the companies themselves, other than there will be a price jump at the gas pumps starting Jan. 1, 2017.
Similar to Bill 6, the farm workers legislation which came into effect Jan. 1, they are holding yet another round of consultation meetings near the middle of summer to work out final details.
While the NDP should be commended to sticking to their guns on what they believe in, they also have to temper ideology with, not common sense, but more of an understanding of the current state of the economy and perhaps have more of the details of their plans defined more specifically before they roll them out. 
NDP supporters may denounce the government critics and say the old way of the status-quo system was deeply flawed. They’d be right.
The “well this is the way we always did it” with the petroleum companies having more freedom on things, the environmental regulations the way they were, the taxation levels etc., it all had to be looked at — a pushing the political “reset” button if you will. At the very least, it needed to be examined, fined tuned and have assurances there were no discrepancies, nothing that needed to be overhauled etc. By all accounts the reaction of the petroleum industry and many of those in general has been alarmingly rude (at best), but often also quite hostile as we’ve seen so often on social media, the Bill 6 consultations and just even this past weekend at an oilmen’s golf tournament in Brooks, there’s deep resentment and anger toward policies from certain groups.
Is it because there are no free rides anymore or is it something deeper than that? Too much change — too fast in a poor economic climate is always unsettling no matter what political spectrum one follows. One can only hope all aspects of changes are effectively communicated and explained so at the very least no one is left in the dark.
Status quo or necessary, but painful changes? Only time will be the judge what was better.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor