The Right Economic Direction for Ontario's Government

October 28, 2009 by  

2009-10-28.exitOver at the National Post’s “Full Comment” blog today , the Post is doing its darnedest to prop up Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Tim Hudak as someone who…is known to exist. In the second of two National Post op-eds in (has it been?) as many weeks, Hudak resorts to the tactic of criticizing the other guy but offering nothing unequivocal or unambiguous as an alternative. In the midst of a much-deserved bashing of the Liberals, the best (and only thing) Hudak can offer, in terms of an alternative is this:

We need a new direction — one that reduces the cost of the public sector and fosters growth in the private sector. Ending corporate welfare, negotiating public-sector contracts that reflect the realities of the private sector, peeling back the red tape and overregulation that are paralyzing job creation and introducing targeted tax relief would be a good start.

In the comments section, the tenacious and Ayn Rand inspired commenter IainGFoulds offers, in response:

…the two sentences that offer solutions are little more than vague, undefined rhetoric.

… Come on, Tim. Don’t play the cheap opportunist.

I replied:

I am with Iain halfway: I agree that the article does little other than criticize (well, and justly) the McGuinty government. I will even agree that Hudak’s the best that the conservatives have to offer. The problem is: that’s not saying much.

I do not mean to imply that Hudak is the essential problem. The essential problem is: conservativism. Hudak is a good exemplar of it, but replacing Hudak with another conservative would not change the fact that conservativism is not the answer to the McGuinty government.

Iain’s proper observation – that the conservatives offer little of substance to take the place of what McGuinty is offering – is founded on the fact that both the liberals and the conservatives are essentially poll-driven pragmatists who, when nobody is complaining, find new things to control; more ways to reduce your discretion.

Notice – as an almost perfect example – that, in the little and vague bit that Hudak does offer as a “good start”, we see the words: “We need a new direction — one that reduces the cost of the public sector and fosters growth in the private sector”. I respond:

(a) no, the “cost” of the public sector is not the essential issue. The essential issue is: of *what* ought the public sector to be comprised. The answer should *not* include: “tax funded health care” or “tax funded education”, the two elements that account for about 75% of all tax revenues in the province. The “new direction” is not to reduce the cost of those services, but to stop funding them with taxes altogether, and to make publicly-offered health and education compete – on a level playing field – with private options.

(b) no, the problem is not that McGuinty’s governance fails to “foster the private sector”. If anything, failing to foster the private sector is a *virtue*. The simple fact is that the government ought not to be *fostering* anything except respect for the life, liberty, and property of others. It ought *not* to be a player in the economy; a lender of last resort; a business “partner”; or any of the other things that today’s corporativists (whether liberal or conservative) want it to be.

There’s a label for the “new direction” government should be taking with respect to the economy: “EXIT”.

Paul McKeever, B.Sc.(Hons), M.A., LL.B.
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario


3 Responses to “The Right Economic Direction for Ontario's Government”

  1. Michael Neibel on October 28th, 2009 9:42 am

    Agreed 100%. The government represents initiatory physical force. When force in introduced into the market place, the right of buyers and sellers to negotiate according their own best judgement is violated. No politicial today either in Canada or the US as far as I know, is a champion of individual rights. all other rights such as human rights, group rights, minority rights etc, are just euphamisms for collective rights which deny the primacy of the individual.

  2. Marco on November 1st, 2009 12:22 am

    Awesome Paul!

    I have seen an interview with Tim Hudak on The Agenda on TVO, and he doesn’t seem to be a free-marketer (which is no surprise), but seems to be for lack of a better of a better term “free-marketish”, as evident in the above critique. Thus, I agree that he and his party are not a viable solution to McGuinty.

    One thing I do have a question about though is, when you say that government shouldn’t be “a lender of last resort”, I do understand what you mean, however isn’t there an exception to be made in the case of education for poor parents so that no child is without an education in the Freedom Party platform?

  3. Paul McKeever on November 4th, 2009 10:09 pm

    Marco: I had a look back at the 2007 election platform (which was drafted beginning in 2004 and into 2005…it was released in October 2005). It did say something to the effect of: “financial assistance will be available for those in demonstrable need”. I do not recall what, exactly, was the rationale for, or the meaning of, that sentence. For example, it does not say who will be offering the assistance (e.g., public vs. private sector), or what form the assistance will take (e.g., charity vs. secured loans). I can tell you this: such a line would not make it into the next platform. Perhaps this is a function of my philosophical learning curve, which is also a learning curve for the party itself. There has been a lot of intense discussion – especially between myself and Freedom Party founder Robert Metz – over the last 10 years of our close association. We have learned from one another, and from our (sometimes heated) debates, and my perception is that we have grown in the same direction, and applied our learning to various considerations relating to the party.

    For example, 6 years ago, I probably would have told you that eliminating a line about *tax-funded* financial assistance to the poor would be “hard core”. Today, I would say that tax-funded financial assistance to the poor is hard core, and evil…because it is a violation of the people who pay the taxes that would make such assistance possible.

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