Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You gets what you pays for..

                Lest we all forget, the Harper Conservative governement was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility in the wake of the Chrétien Liberals' financing scandals: federal monies were diverted to support the anti-separatist "Non" campaign in Québec, some of that money got further diverted into Liberal election funds and gifts to Liberal supporters. 

              It is therefore a bit surprising - ? shocking ? - to note that the Conservatives have - temporarily at least - lost track of $3.1 Billion earmarked for the "war on terrorism". 

Dang! Now where did those three billion smackeroos go..

                 The synopsis boxes on the right hand side of the above article are interesting reading, too:

"The national search-and-rescue system run by the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard is troubled by aging equipment and shortages of pilots and flight engineers. They are doing an adequate job now, but will face sustainability problems in the future."

              Part of the neoconservative ideology inspiring the Harper Conservatives is, of course, the "need" to constantly cut "government" and turn over everything to the private sector. The argument - ideologically, not factually, based - is that "government is inefficient". This argument, like all truisms, obviously has some validity but is overgeneralized to the point of absurdity by neoconservative ideologues to include even those functions and services which generate too low a profit margin when performed by the private sector. This is duh.. why they were put in the public sector in the first place! 

               Such services inevitably degrade in the hands of the private sector or, worse, end up excluding the very people who are most vulnerable and in need (poorer communities or segments of the population). The various attempts around the world to privitize potable water delivery are glaring examples of the failure of privitization to provide adequate essential public services. 

                Here, Canadian search and rescue services, is, perhaps, another example. Either society decides - hopefully democratically - that it wants adequate search and rescue services and then delivers the funding. Or isolated communities and governments are left to do as best they can. One can agree or disagree with either position but they are, at least, honest statements of alternative political positions. Anything "in between" is simply neocon hypocrisy and word-twisting. One the one hand, we praise "our boys and girls" in the military while providing them with inadequate - and therefore risky - equipment and manpower. This is not just hypocritical, it is immoral and criminal. Ideologues refuse to realize there are simply somethings governments do better. This lesson, learned during the 19th century, is now being unlearned by our contemporary "laissez-faire" ideologues. How long before the people wake up to the fact they are being short changed?

                The faulty logic in ideological overgeneralization of the "government is inefficient" argument is appalingly evident: yes, you may indeed save some money at the front end by privitizing a public function but the OVERALL costs to society as a whole, may actually rise exponentially. Programs to give welfare recipients SERIOUS occupational training cost the taxpayer money. But the ex-welfare recipicient who enters the workforce with qualifications is unlikely to fall back on the dole again. During their working life, they are likely to contribute several times, in taxes, the costs of the program that got them off welfare. They are also less likely to be a burden to the community in terms of health problems, substance or alcohol abuse, imprisionment or institutionalization for mental health problems. When one does full cost accounting, one often finds that a public service rendered by a public agent actually ends up costing society less than a privitized one. But such a position is not politically correct today..

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