Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Are Ya Feelin' Stimulated Yet?

Define stimulus. Okay, now define what stimulus spending isn't.

You see, without a definition, it's just a lot of money wandering about aimlessly and, when that happens, it almost never winds up where you wanted it to go.

Now I suppose you could say that any spending, by any entity, for any purpose is stimulus spending. You could say that, but would you? Maybe you would if you were a guy named Steve with a last name that rhymed with Carper but I'm not that guy and I'm pretty sure you aren't either.

Harper's focus seems to be on getting money moving faster. He's placing less emphasis on what that money is for. But isn't it important that the money he's borrowing, the money we'll have to repay with interest in the future, went on "new" spending. Isn't that more effective, more bang for the buck, than throwing federal deficit dollars on projects that were going to be built anyway?

Take Vancouver - please! I just listened to an interview with the city's newly minted mayor, Angus MacFergus MacTavish Dundee Robertson. He can't wait to get his hands on a truckload of Harper Bucks to pour into Vancouver's sewers. You see, the city's water/sewer system is old and has been neglected by the city fathers so long that it's at risk of becoming just one system (sewer plus water - just don't turn on the taps).

Now those sewer and water pipes were going to be repaired anyway so is that a "stimulus" project? Or is it just a federally subsidized municipal works programme that was going ahead even without the federal money. Is it simply replacing municipal borrowing with federal borrowing? Does it even matter? Call me an unrepentant sinner but I think it does.

Yes the Harper Bucks extravaganza may cause some projects to be accelerated and yes, I suppose, that'll get money into circulation a bit quicker, but is that as good a deal as it can be, as good a deal as it should be?

Maybe it's time for a new deck, or a New Deal. You see, Harper isn't stimulating anything, he doesn't have a clue. His response is to use the federal government's borrowing power to come up with truckloads of Harper Bucks to throw about in the general direction of anyone who says they can use it.

If it's infrastructure he wants to spend money on, why doesn't He spend it - on new, federal infrastructure programmes that will benefit the entire country at large rather than a gaggle of municipalities who've got a convenient pocket ready to snag a bag of Harper Bucks?

Why doesn't Harper put up some serious money and build us all a Canadian railroad for the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd centuries, something that would return plenty of dividends - fiscally and environmentally - for as long as we can possibly imagine, certainly for the duration of our lifetimes and those of our kids and grandkids? After all, those "taxpayers yet to be" will be picking up their share of this too.

Christ, this country is calling out for that sort of vision, that type of nation-building initiative. When since Confederation has the moment been better?

But you see, Stephen Harper isn't a man of vision. He doesn't see horizons any more than he sees the future. Stephen Harper has very small vision because all he ever sees is Stephen Harper and the only future he's interested in exploring is Stephen Harper's political future.

Is Iggy any better? I'm the last person anyone should ask. But he might be good enough, if he really cares for our country more than he cares for his hold on the Liberal Party. If he ever wanted an opportunity to show what he's made of, this is it.


susansmith said...

I agree - defeat this budget.

penlan said...

All good points MoS. I'm hoping the budget is defeated & we get a coalition & put money where it is well & truly needed & done properly. Like the railroads you suggested, as an example. Makes a lot of sense to me & it would really stimulate
the economy.