Saturday, May 24, 2008

Debate about the role of government

As a public policy Masters student I am highly interested in learning the history of the role of government. My undergrad in Sociology and Canadian Studies also fuels my interest in thinking about how we should create our society. Paul Wells has an excellent article in Macleans about the debate that Dion and Harper will not be able to avoid in the next election: the role of federal government:

The Harper Conservatives will argue, in effect, that there is not much left to do. The fruits of Canadian governments' smart decisions over the past decade and a half are in danger precisely because governments will be tempted to get big ideas, to tax and spend us all into penury again with grandiose projects. The way to stop that is to get still more money out of Ottawa's hands and into yours with tax cuts.
The Liberals will argue that budget surpluses, high employment and relatively low taxes are a solid base from which to relaunch an era of government ambition. They have a tougher row to hoe, simply because activist government has fallen out of public favour while we've spent nearly a generation reining government in. But they have to make an argument for activist government, whether it's an easy sell or not. First, they can't outbid the Conservatives as fiscal managers because Paul Martin the prime minister was ingenious in finding ways to torpedo the legacy of Paul Martin the finance minister. Second, the road back to power lies in persuading the NDP voters of 2006 to vote Liberal in 2008 or 2009. Dion can't woo Harper's voters away from Harper, not yet, so he needs to unite the left.

I believe the government should create incentives or programs that do not create a state of dependency. I really believe the past thirty years since Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms that we as citizens have become too fixated about "rights" instead of our responsibilities as citizens. Politics has become subdivided into identity politics where people are just interested in what's good for their "kind" (in whatever form that make come in).

Why create social housing, and put more money into it doing repairs to them, when we should create more incentives and opportunities for people to own their own home. Of course this shouldn't be in the form of sub-prime mortgages, but it's common sense that people take care of things better when it's their own.

Why create a health care system (or any social program) that will not be sustainable with an aging population, and not enough younger people and babies (future tax payers) to sustain it.

Why create an education system sending students off to the next grade level without the grammar and social skills they need. Or allowing high school students to graduate without a course on economics, a topic that is at the forefront of every day news stories.

Why remove funding to national defense to pay for other social programs, and when disaster strikes (whether in the form of terrorism or natural disaster) we're stuck chartering out equipment.

We need 21st century leadership and solutions to the challenges our society faces.

I really don't think Stephane Dion offer this.

I didn't vote for Harper the first time around; I wasn't convinced he could lead the country. But he got my vote in Jan 2006 and he will get my vote in the next election.


Anonymous Ray K said...

"I believe the government should create incentives or programs that do not create a state of dependency."

That's an oxymoron.

Sat May 24, 09:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Roy Eappen said...

An excellent post
I believe in as small a government as possible. That's why I want lower taxes. Money is the oxygen that lets runaway government exist. Let's cut off this oxygen.

Sat May 24, 10:59:00 AM EDT  

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