Friday, August 28, 2015

Politics: Election Issues 1

The desire to win elections makes politicians crazy.

Here we have Stephen Harper echoing his old refrain that cutting taxes will spur investment. It won’t of course. Businesses don’t invest tax savings, they pocket them. The only thing that spurs investment is the opportunity to retain or increase sales. With our economy edging into “official recession”, businesses won’t invest. Where are the customers?

Then we have Thomas Mulcair sounding even more fiscally prudent than Tony Blair did with his New Labour, which was a thinly disguised ploy to persuade the anti-commie nutbars that Labour was not really pink at all. A balanced budget in the first year of an NDP government? I doubt it. For one thing, the books will certainly show a deeper deficit than Harper as admitted, for another, there’s not enough revenue in added taxes and reversing tax giveaways to the wealthiest 20% to fund the new spending. Cutting subsidies for fossil fuels is a good idea, if it prompts oil-patch investors to shift their attention to renewables. But that entails uncertainty, and investors hate uncertainty. Mulcair is assuming a psychology that rarely operates in a for-profit economy.

Justin Trudeau admits that his plan to put us all to work building and repairing infrastructure will mean deficits for a couple of years or more. That’s a good ploy. It makes him sound honest and up front. Will enough voters agree that we have to spend money in order to make money, or will deficit-fear paralyse the little grey cells? Hard to tell. Most voters are moved more by the leader’s persona than by his policies, and Trudeau still seems too young to too many voters.

Harper merely needs to repeat his claim that he’s brought us through tough economic times unscathed, which is taking credit for the passing of the storm and the coming of the sunshine. Mulcair and Trudeau both think that they’re vulnerable to flank attacks from each other, so they fulfill their fears by mounting just such attacks. They should rather attack their common enemy, and assume that the voters will pick the better of the of the local candidates, that would pretty well guarantee a minority government by one of them, But then they would have to cooperate to make it work. 

Right now, I think the face off is between Harper and Mulcair, with Trudeau as the king-maker if Mulcair achieves a minority government, or needs a coalition partner. That might be a good thing. The Liberals’ desire for power, and the NDP’s yearning for ideological purity have stood in the way of the pragmatic answer to Harper’s Conservatives, which is a merger of the two parties. The fact is that Canada is centre left, not centre right. Harper’s base demands ideological purity, too, and only the centre-left split has kept him in power.

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