A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’ve taken a lot of flak over the years for my abhorrence of government programs and/or government intervention in anything beyond the bare necessities – education, health, security etc. I have argued (sometimes successfully) that my government should keep its fingers off most of the stuff it’s currently up to its elbows in, and should never — under any circumstances — even look at new programs. My point is, since the only people keeping an eye on the government are the government, they aren’t in the best position to assess the damage they’re doing–and they’re doing plenty. This is because not only is every politico in all directions wasting money as fast as they can tax it, but while they’re playing Daddy Warbucks on extracurricular activities, they’re neglecting the essentials. Governments should confine themselves to things like minimum standards for clean water (which BTW, my country does not have) national standards of education (oops, don’t have that one either) or perhaps overhauling our antiquated Catch-and-Release justice system (I’m not even going to go there.) If my government would quit dickin’ around and do what they’re supposed to, between the money they’d save and the money they’d never spend in the first place, my country would be a veritable paradise. The problem is the government is the problem not the solution — and now, I can prove it.
This week, austerity budget week in Canada, buried on page 352, my government has declared it’s about to save me 30 million dollars a year because it’s going to stop sending aid to China. Wow! Good on ya, folks! That’s 30 million I didn’t have yesterday. [Incredulous Pause] Hey, wait a minute! We’re sending foreign aid to China? WTF?
Anyway, one quick Google later and you betcha, folks, not only does Canada send piles of money to China, we’ve been doing it for decades. This is insanity on such a biblical scale it’s impossible to discuss it rationally. My only option is to use the infamous rhetorical question.
First of all, somebody had to think this up in the first place. Who in their right mind would even conceive of giving – GIVING! — the second largest economy in living history financial assistance? That’s like me sending a cheque to Bill Gates. (“Here, Bill. I thought you could use the extra cash.”) Were the politicos all sitting around Parliament Hill, blasted on peyote? China has more US currency in its banks than America does. It has launched a guy into space and an aircraft carrier into the Pacific. It hosted the Olympics and won them. It has factories bigger than most of our towns and could, if it so chose, swallow our economy whole and spit out the GST. What Carlos Castaneda dream do we think we’re living in?
Secondly, who approved it? What committee came to the incredible conclusion that giving China buckets of money was the very best allocation of my nation’s wealth? What overwhelming argument convinced them? Whatever it was, it must have been smack-bottom good. After all, it obviously beat out spending that money to feed the hungry, house the homeless or even educate the stupid – which might have helped us out, in this case.
Thirdly, what good did it do us? What was the cost-to-benefit ratio for those ordinary Canadians the politicos are always yipping about? Is there one Canadian out there who can lift his Molson and say, “I’ve had a better life since we starting sending millions of dollars to China. Salud!” Perhaps, but I doubt it.
Fourthly, this squander has been going on for decades. Why didn’t somebody – somewhere — put a stop to it? Why didn’t at least one of the several successive governments we elected in the last 40 years ever eyeball the cancelled cheques and say, “What the hell is this? We’re cutting EI benefits to send money to China? That’s just wrong. We should discontinue this waste.” Oddly, nobody did.
Finally (there’s more, but I have to stop this somewhere) who possibly ever thought this was a good idea? I don’t think anybody. I think everybody from Trudeau (not Justin, the real one) to Stephen Harper thought it was unbelievably stupid to give – GIVE — millions to China, but they just kept doing it anyway — government inertia at its absolute finest.
There is one good thing that’s come out of this monumental cock-up, though. I’m waiting in the weeds for the next person to tell me what a utopia government programs could create if they were just given the chance. It will be an interesting conversation.