BIG Government

You’ve probably seen the Provincial government’s latest TV ad, the one where a multitude of cell phones are set up like dominoes.

You’ve probably seen the Provincial government’s latest TV ad, the one where a multitude of cell phones are set up like dominoes. As they topple, a grave bass baritone voice intones a litany of sins that has brought so many countries to the brink of economic collapse. Prominent amongst them is Big Government, says the Voice, suggesting that the larger than life governments have been a key player in the financial meltdown.

Here, folks, is a gilt-edged, five-star example of historical revisionism. As anyone able to read a newspaper or watch the news will tell you, the recent financial meltdown was caused by obscenely greedy bankers hawking toxic financial products laden with foul mortgages. They were able to do this because Wall Street had been deregulated during the G.W. Bush years. Had the regulatory wings of the US Securities and Exchange Commission not been clipped during the reign of Bush and Cheney, the whole sordid mess would not have happened and the globe would have been a happier place.

In the financial meltdown before last – a time even more desperate than this one  – the US Government intervened in a big way, sending agriculturists to the dust bowl to teach farmers how to farm in a less damaging manner, building dams, creating national parks, paving roads, and creating jobs where there were none. It was the most massive example of government intervention in history. This was Big Government writ large. It was called the New Deal, and it worked so well that this continent experienced the greatest and longest period of economic growth, and the lowest rates of unemployment ever.

On the eve of the next great financial collapse, Barack Obama was faced with an economy about to die. He invoked the power of Big Government, and bailed out Wall Street and most of the auto industry with money donated by US taxpayers. It worked. But the sin was that the taxpayers received no equity shares for their investment. By rights, US taxpayers should now own the banks their money saved from oblivion and be benefiting from the profits those institutions are now raking in, but this was not to be because public ownership smacks of socialism, and socialism is sin south of our border.

The same Liberal government that commissioned the aforementioned commercial to bolster their flagging fortunes, is a believer in small government despite the fact that the countries with the highest standard of living in the world have opted for the opposite. It is they, the Liberals, who, in the name of creating small government, have systematically undermined the government institutions designed to use your tax dollar to serve you, and, make no mistake, if they could undermine and dismantle EI, public education, and universal healthcare, they would do that too.

The Socreds, who were soon to morph into the Liberal Party of BC, placed our highways in the hands of private companies thereby creating a system that gives the financial bottom line precedence over public safety. Millions formerly spent to ensure our well being through road maintenance, are now being spent on insurance claims and medical expenses incurred as a result of inadequately maintained roads.

Tourism is one of the largest players in the provincial economy. The money generated by it is the best there is because it comes from outside the province, for the most part, and we don’t have to ruin or compromise natural resources in its promotion. Parks are a huge asset to tourism. Liberals have gutted the provincial parks service, swapped rangers for contractors, and closed parks for a large part of the year, leaving them vulnerable to vandalism.

Near home we have Kleanza Creek, which ought to be open year round for cross-country skiers, hikers, campers, and fishers. Instead, the park is closed for most of the year. We should have well-maintained parks on the Exstew, Exchamsiks, the Khasiks, and Khyeks Rivers. Instead, we have shabby, poorly-maintained sites cluttered with trash.

The Copper River, one of the world’s premier streams, could and should be patrolled by parks officials who oversee campsites on the river delta, at Baxter’s Riffle, above the second canyon and on the Clore. Instead, we’re forced to rely on forest companies that built sites but don’t monitor them thereafter.

Restoring the parks branch, hiring rangers, and investing in an expanded parks infrastructure throughout the province would be an excellent investment in our economic future. For people who pride themselves on their business acumen, I’m surprised that the BC Liberals can’t see that parks, highways, and education are investment opportunities that will pay huge dividends.

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