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Election, the silly time is over. After listening to the politics, I can’t help but think of John Cleese and Monty Python’s Final Rip-off, a harmless amusing satire.  Contrary to real life politics, in which the politics our society decided to inject into parliament and government, October 14, 2008, is not a laughing matter, nor harmless. Particularly politics that seem to ignore that sustainable social satisfaction, good health, a sound ecology, global warming, and political stability entirely depend on a sustainable economy, produced by research that increases understanding.  

The election aftermath will show.  Have we as a society elected a government that early enough addresses the issues in our economy that hamper sustainable economic development, that which is not private sector’s task?  A government that technically, early enough addresses faults in the economy’s allocating mechanism that unsolved causes social and economic adversity?  Or will we end up with a play for the gallery and TV in the parliament, a government that manages rather than solves problems – a rip-off.  

Make no mistake, just like when the airline oversight and air traffic control system fails, the aircraft crashes and passengers are injured and killed.  In a mixed economy, when government fails in its task, again that which is not private sector’s task, inevitably this will cause different degrees of social, economic and ecological adversity, and in fact kills people.  

For example, the not long ago government’s failure in oversight and control, allowing a company to distribute listeriosis contaminated food that killed people.   Another example is the current malfeasant in US’s financial system spreading around the globe, not directly killing people but causing social adversity.  

Supposedly, because of good government oversight, our banks are in good shape; are we hearing the truth? With $811 billion of Credit Default Swaps, roughly 62 percent of the Canadian GDP is that good government oversight?  The question of course is how many Credit Defaults Swaps are coming due in the current mess. Let’s hope for the best and that those in charge will learn something.  

Then there are the ongoing problems, in the forest sector, the healthcare hodgepodge, emigration, First Nation, taxation and all other issues that are government’s task in a mixed economy to address, - and not private sectors.  On healthcare, why is Canada adopting a US healthcare model which can only be at the expense of factors that create good health, and eliminate one of Canada’s prime comparable advantages in the global economy?   

Sadly, in British Columbia the forest sector offers one of the best illustrations of faults in the allocation mechanism, and government’s failure to address the issues, causing irreparable harm to society.  Briefly, the underlying problem is that the former ‘soviet union style’ semi-planned economic system effectively eliminated all real competition and guaranteed private industry access to a supply of cheap timber, thereby eroding natural market allocation and pricing mechanisms.  A low Canadian dollar further artificially made Canadian products cheaper and industry prices more competitive at home and abroad. This subsequently eliminated industry’s incentive to recognize and adapt to new conditions in the economy and marketplace.  The need to invest in R&D, to increase understanding necessary to invent new ways of doing things, develop new products that add value using fewer resources.  It allowed industry to substantially ignore ecological and sustainability issues.  

The result was that the BC forest industry failed to identify and address economic and market shifts, which can also be observed in the automotive and other sectors.  During the good times, the system failed to encourage long-term investment in R&D and adding value, using fewer resources and developing new markets and not only China.  During the bad times, it stimulated industry to expect government assistance and bailouts.  A system that inevitably will fail. 

This created a series of long-term problems for BC, and Canada at large, that continues to erode economic production, and hence quality of life in many communities. 

Capitalism and free enterprise, depends on good government.  It is daunting that there still are people in key positions in society that religiously believe that we will solve the problem humanity is facing with Adam Smith’s fable of the invisible hand from the eighteenth century. Could it be because they have an invisible hand - in the cookie jar?

It is bizarre to now hear people calling for and applaud a lower Canadian versus US dollar.  Since one of the underlying causes to manufacturing sectors problem today was the low Canadian versus US dollar.  Artificially boosting competitiveness, made investment in R&D and new technology, to increase productivity less a priority, and promoted “brainless” branch plants and addicted industry to the US market.   Are we seeing the same mistakes being repeated again?    

What is needed is an industrial strategy and investment in socially relevant research and policies that address not the symptoms but the underlying causes that hamper investment in sustainable economic production, and employment. Not political patronized driven tax transfers to a few well connected people/companies, under the label of diversification, future, community or other so-called worthy causes. 

While fundamental systemic and structural “disease”, the real underlying cause to the problems in our economy, are left untreated causing adversity. Trade commissions, economic development officers and political cronies are traveling to China at the taxpayer’s expense-the culture of entitlement. Hard working members of the community volunteer time and effort to sit on committees to advise paid politicians, bureaucrats and their consultants on what they are paid to know, and what should have been done many years ago?  Politically, this is an old method of avoiding accountability to ensure that nobody is accountable – a rip-off. Why is society accepting this?  

Ultimately, the core message, or a reminder in this is, that the behaviour in government reflects the level of understanding and the moral and ethical value of the society that elected them.  Fifty-nine percent voter participation is a national shame - are we getting what we deserve?  Voting and social activism ensures that government meets its task in the economy after the election, and is a democratic privilege and obligation. Being concerned about the issues that truly matter for the present and future generations, and getting involved is what creates good government, and a better society.  Right-minded individual activism leads to consensus and creates positive change.  Get involved – use democracy or lose it.  


 October 16, 2008