Tuesday’s Advocate carried two banner headlines: Awash in debt: Recession deficits could reach almost $156 billion, with hundreds of thousands out of work.
And: City could ride high-speed rail to ‘Super Zone.’
What is it with this stupid train that self-professed rational people can’t grasp the connection between infatuation with big government and economic devastation?
Let’s juxtapose even further by going just a few pages into that same newspaper, and find Premier Ed Stelmach crowing about pouring some $600 for every man, woman, and child in Alberta into the carbon capture sinkhole in the faint hope of slaying the mythical dragon of global warming.
Why do politicians become so infatuated with these black holes of taxpayer dollars?
Every time this high-speed rail issue comes up, we’re treated to a host of local dignitaries fawning over the supposed economic benefits to the region.
We routinely hear of how it will create jobs, and bring in new investment because people will be able to live in Red Deer and work in Calgary or Edmonton.
Yet, those very same politicians and planners also spend millions of our dollars trying to convince us we need to plan for a future where we live even closer to where we work.
Well, which is it guys?
We’re asked to believe that a 300 to 480 km/h train will provide the most economic benefit, yet the reality proposed, with three stops between Edmonton and Calgary, makes the system no better than the existing air connections available, and we all know that it’s inconceivable for Red Deer to support daily air service at comparable cost to high speed rail, so our economic contribution to this thing’s viability is a wash.
Along with being awash in public debt, we apparently are awash in politicians who lack the ability to simply think.
Time and again, we hear how some grand public expenditure will have even more grandiose economic benefits.
We’re asked to believe that if we spend $5 billion or $ 20 billion here, we’ll somehow reap $15 billion or $30 billion down the road. If this were actually true, then Quebec and the Maritimes would be the economic breadbasket of Canada.
So, if we’re willing to believe that if we take a couple of billion dollars from the people who earned it, and to whom it rightfully belongs, and give it to snake oil salesmen (read: the Van Horne Institute, among others), we’ll somehow reap great benefits, why aren’t we able to believe that if we allow the people who actually own the money in the first place to keep even more of it, that the same economic benefits might occur?
Every day now, our leaders are willing to remind us that our lower corporate tax rates will bring in greater investment from abroad, especially from the United States. They’re right. It will.
Yet, at the same time, they can’t shake their own reflexive Keynesianism. They can’t escape having been raised in a country that still widely believes in an economic theory that’s as discredited as the Grassy Knoll Shooters Theory.
We can’t grow our economy on runaway public spending and debt.
Our MLAs know that. Our MP knows it. Our mayor knows it. Yet, bring up high-speed rail and they climb to the rooftops to crow the benefits of it, knowing full well that the only way this thing will ever turn a wheel is if we, the people, are compelled through taxation to support it.
The political pressure to build this thing with our money is profound. If it weren’t, it would have died long ago. The benefits, we’re told, are all encompassing.
All of these schemes are the same and they seem to underscore the sheer ignorance of our leadership, or something worse.
High-speed rail chews up billions of public dollars everywhere it exists; yet it will be magically successful here. Is our mayor unaware of this? If so, why? And, if not, then a more serious problem exists.
Carbon capture will save us from global warming, yet the Earth has been on a cooling trend since 1998. Is our premier unaware of this? If so, why? And, if not, then an even more serious problem exists.
A great deal of our economic problems stem from governments having too much access to money that isn’t theirs.
We, the people, must take the steps to be ever more diligent in reducing profligate spending and rapacious taxation.
Bill Greenwood is a local freelance columnist.