Monday, January 25, 2010

The myth of Conservative fiscal prudence

The received wisdom is that Tories cut government spending. But if you look at Canada's spending as percentage of GDP, it has been falling through the 90's and only stabilises, and rises with the arrival of the Conservative into power forming a minority government. The last previous rise, doubling both debt and deficit was under Brian Mulroney's Conservative government.

The problem is the Tories like to spend money on expensive(and arguably futile or unnecessary) moral crusades, such as more prisons and a larger, conventional army and big corporate subsidies, and less on less splashy but cheaper and more effective programs i.e. drug rehab, an expanded Coast Guard and various kinds of post-secondary training and R&D funding. After all, successful businesses need new, better methods to stay in business, not a financial crutch to hide poor management practices. Preventing crime is more cost effective than punishment. On the otherhand, heavy weapons like main battle tanks are made by large corporate entities. The utility of having such systems seems redundant in the asymmetric battlefield of today. But the relationship between elected representatives and such business interests are well known. These do not always serve the interests of the polity at large.

Of course, Canadian's are not immune to being bribed with their own money, or better yet, that of their fellow citizens who don't vote for the Conservatives.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster