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Nisga’a First Nation, in British Columbia, has instituted private ownership of land and property and taxation within their territory.  This is significant, because it means that this First Nation community is moving away from the sort of command government – run economy that characterized the former Soviet Union. The former Soviet Union is now the “former” Soviet Union in large part because of the abrogation by that Nation of mixed economic models that have been so successful in the West.  Now a First Nations group is evidencing a desire to move away from that same flawed economic model before it too vanishes into the dustbin of history.  

Mixed monetary economies such as Canada, Sweden, and the United States rely on a vibrant private sector to invest in economic production in pursuit of profit.  The government’s task, in those and in other Western economies, is to collect tax and ideally to provide products and services that the private sector fails to provide. The Government’s task in those economies is to address issues, including in the government itself, early enough, in order to remedy problems that would otherwise, if unsolved, lead to social, economic and environmental adversity. Those concerns can never be the concerns of the private sector, except on the periphery, as they detract from the private sector’s goal of producing goods and making profits.  Where this mixed private sector, government and the voters responsibility breaks down, the result is economic failure witness the 2007-2008 financial and housing failure in the US. 

The  government model Winston Churchill defined; as “the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”  Democracy and a mixed economy are inseparable partners.   We might refer here to the BC Forest Sector as a semi-corrupt, semi-central planned economic model that is doomed to fail; it is a sad example of government failure, in which the government has taken over private sector responsibilities, ignoring all the while its own responsibility for environmental stewardship.  Will we see the same come about in the oil and gas sector much taken out little invested back?  

 The question which now arises is whether the Nisga’a Government will meet the standard for government in a modern mixed economy.  Will this Government address issues that hamper private investment in sustainable economic production and distribution of real income in the local economy, through private sector employment?  This Government’s plan certainly suggests that its voters in Nisga’a do realize that private sector gainful employment is superior to the welfare model that characterizes centrally planned economies. 

 Ultimately will Canada, i.e., the Federal and BC Provincial Government, meet the same standard in  a mixed economy as Nisga’a attempts to do here?  Will Canada fulfill its constitutional obligations which it has, sadly, failed to perform so often in the past, resulting in the sort of government failure that has caused the socioeconomic problem in First Nation communities in the first place?

Whatever our beliefs, religious or political, make no mistake: it is significant , in a democratic mixed economy such  as Canada’s when the government we elect fails in its task of performing those functions  which can never  be the private sector’s;  and we too, as voters, fail when our complacency results in social, economic, or ecological adversity.  Hence, will the government meet its responsibility and the voters theirs and assist Nisga’a to develop its private government mixed economic model and thereby further economic sustainability in First Nations communities across Canada?  

The result of this “experiment” might well be one of the more constructive solutions to the disparities that presently exist between First Nations and the rest of Canada.  We might further expect that this experiment might reduce the perceived need for First Nation to engage in protests over their economic lot.  The outcome will bear out my old dictum: “the behavior in government reflects the level of understanding and the moral and ethical value in the society that make up the economy”.


November 10, 2013