October 31, 2007

Panglossian Polyannas At Play!

*I've been criticized in the real world for not talking about politics in Canada for far too long, and instead gabbling on about the US state of affairs. Even the excuse that we're boring doesn't hold, what with the current Prime Minister having all the subtlety of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, circa 1988.

All right, fine; but I'll need a transition piece. What's common between North and South at the moment...?*

What is it with the conservatives in North America?

All the crazy dreamers, those madcap miracle believers of times past would have naturally gravitated to leftist politics, where the visions of future utopias (utopiae?) would be assisted by certain specific cigarettes and perhaps a cube or two of enhanced sugar. They could sit in their multi-coloured vans and groove to the universal rhythms of peace and love and all that cool shit while listening to King Crimson.

Basically harmless, but fun to mock. And their innocence was cute to watch, and a refreshing break from the heavy duties of reality.

Fast forward forty years.

The insanely uncritical outlook has infected the politically right. Need proof? In the U.S., there is endless optimism for the ease of conquering Afghiranaq; the fervent insistence that the deficit will clean itself up without any government involvement or personal sacrifice; and the hope of another terrorist attack on the continental States, the thought of which seems to send certain folks into fits of rapture.

Which, obviously, is another thing they're optimistic about, but that's more generic lunacy than about conservatives specifically.

*Special edit: try this for a frightening quote for the folks Down South: "Over the last seven years income has stagnated, yet people have increased their purchases by 18.34 percent. Where did all this new money come from?"*

And in Canada? Our very own evangelical Protestant leader (yep, that's the Plastic Man himself) has decided to lower taxes again, pretty much across the board, including the perpetually annoying GST (federal sales tax to visitors). This is reasonable enough, as the surplus has been climbing steadily for the past few years.

Sure, one could quibble about how it was presented: Jim "Jolly Elf" Flaherty virtually bouncing in place as he announced his mini-budget with but a single days notice; Team Blue waggling their fingers and making "nyah nyah" noises at the Perpetual Party daring them to defeat the paper and forcing an election with a "We Like Taxes" platform plus some blathering about income trusts that no one really follows; that the lowering of the bottom tax rate actually only brought it back to the same level it was at before the Conservatives assumed leadership.

But the bottom line is that most people like lower tax rates. But Canadians are a bit of odd ducks when it comes to that: we like our services as much as tax breaks, and anyone applying the latter has to also announce why they didn't increase the former instead. (See also: the House of Orange.)

Now personally, I do like the lowering of the GST: if any tax is going to be lowered, it should be the one that affects the poorest people just as much as it does the wealthiest. Other taxes got reduced, too, and fair enough: we can afford them just now. And again, this is what conservatives do: instead of increasing services, they increase individual wealth. Not my choice, but the expected result of a surplus.

Pretty much everyone puts some towards the debt, and they're no exception.

The problem is five years from now - or what Team Blue thinks is five years from now. The plan is to drop the corporate rate eight percent between now and 2012. How, one may ask, is that revenue to be replaced?

Enter Ronald Reagan and David Stockman.

Stephen Harper is apparently not the incredibly awkward accountant geek often depicted in his first bit for national leadership. No, he's the incredibly awkward accountant geek uncle who insists on his turn to play Santa Claus for the kids - and then has no idea what to get them, so he hands out cheques, and insists the kiddies start a nice stock portfolio.

Sometimes, Steve, the kids really really need the socks instead.

In any case, this increase in Canada's wealth is being driven by one thing: resources. We're an incredibly rich nation, with a natural wealth that is astounding in its variety and quantity, but who's our biggest customer?

Here's a hint: they just had their house foreclosed on them.

But that's not stopping the giddy Conservatives North of the border. They've got a long term plan for us, and it's this:

If we all wish really, really hard, neither Peter Pan nor commodity prices will never, ever die.


posted by Thursday at 10:29 pm


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