If the shoe fits…

Parasites are a part of living in our world whether we like it or not.

There are many kinds of parasites out there from the literal such as the blood sucking mosquito above to the figurative such as the tax dollar consuming civil servants below.

Civil servants unsurprisingly chafe at being labelled as parasites but they fit pretty much every definition of the term. Civil servants are 100% reliant on the resources provided to them by their host (taxpayers) who have to give without consent.

At best, the relationship can be considered something of a symbiotic one as civil servants can provide tangible benefits to taxpayers at times. There is no doubt that civil servants provide some rather essential public services particularly in emergency service provision. One rarely feels that their tax dollars were poorly invested when they have received emergency services from an ambulance or had their property and well being protected by a police officer. Most people agree that a degree of regulation is required in society and that regulation will come with some degree of bureaucracy and enforcement in its administration. That still doesn’t change the parasitic nature of the relationship however.

What is critical in a parasitic, symbiotic relationship is balance.

If parasites overpopulate, the host can become irreparably damaged as more resources are drawn than commensurate services are provided.

The Notley government has caused a terrible imbalance between the parasites and hosts in our provincial society. In order to try to mask the effects of our recession, the NDP has been borrowing at an astounding rate in order to pad up the number of civil servants in Alberta. This helps for a short term at least in keeping the unemployment figures from truly reflecting how depressed our economy really is right now. This approach is totally unsustainable and we will be paying a very heavy price for it soon.

While the trend of mass civil servant hiring did indeed begin before the NDP took office, they expanded on it and continued the trend. The parasite sectors is growing swiftly while the host sector has dropped and remains flat lined.

The accidental Notley government will be replaced in the next general election. Unfortunately, the hard work to recover from the terrible economic management of the NDP will only be beginning at that point.

The spike in civil servant numbers and compensation will rise even more dramatically once the NDP accept that they will not be forming government again any time soon. The NDP will greatly expand the civil service and will bind the hosts to contracts that will be terribly difficult to get out of as they vacate their temporary home in government.

With out mounting public debt and our flat lined employment numbers among producers (private sector), the cuts that will come to the tax dollar consumers (civil servants) post-Notley will have to be deep and will have to come soon.

Parasites will always struggle with vigor when being removed even if it means further damaging their host and themselves. Just as a wood tick will dig in and possibly cause its own head to be torn off rather than be removed from its feeding spot on its host, civil servants will do anything in their desperate attempts to continue feeding on the taxpayers indefinitely.

The parasites will begin lashing out with threats. I already saw that last night as a union member annoyed by my parasite characterization actually implied that civil servants may purposely meddle with my health care if I keep up with my critique as can be seen below.

Strikes will be threatened and possibly held as essential spending restraint looms.

This is not unprecedented at all as we went through all of this in the 1990s when Ralph Klein made the tough decisions that had to be made to bring the province back into balance. Those choices led to a period of unprecedented Albertan prosperity for over a decade until we slipped back into the trap of excess government spending yet again.

The looming cuts are inevitable. The clashes are inevitable too unfortunately as those with a sense of entitlement to the earnings of others never let go easily.

It will take courage to stand down the protests when the time comes. Understanding the parasitic and symbiotic relationship that we have with civil servants will help us remain strong when pressure to back down on cuts comes. We can’t be afraid to call the relationship what it is and act on that basis.

The relationship between taxpayers and civil servants is way out of balance and we will all suffer until that is rectified.


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First conservative unity, next conservative policy.

This weekend, I hope and expect that the majority of conservative minded people in Alberta will find themselves united under one banner.

One thing that has fallen by the wayside in these singular times of unity battles has been any real specific policy directions. This had to happen as we really need to unite under general principles of conservatism such as small government and low taxes. If we get ourselves mired into specific policy items we could reignite internal divisions at a time when we really can’t afford to. Conservatives can unite under general principles, but we can nitpick ourselves to death over the individual policies.

Assuming that the forces of unity are successful this weekend, we will then enter a formal leadership race (it has already been clearly informally running for some time now).

There is no better time to hammer out policy specifics and commitments than during a leadership race and we dearly need to start spelling out what the plan is.

Yes, the vast majority of Albertans think that the NDP is harming our province. We do not have a specific plan laid out for how we will mitigate the damage caused by the NDP once we finally toss them to the electoral curb however.

Most candidates and supporters agree that the NDP carbon tax has to go. Notley has proven that legislative flagellation through tax hikes will never buy us that mythical “social license” required to get our products out of the province. The impact of the carbon tax on our environment is negligible at best and the impact on the economy is terrible.

In cutting taxes though, how do we balance the budget?

There is no getting around it. We need to cut spending and we need to cut it deeply. The longer the NDP is in power, the more painful the recovery will be but we simply can’t avoid it. Alberta spends $2,700 more annually per-capita than our neighbors in BC. We have plenty of room to cut.

One of the most effective ways that the left has undercut those calling for spending cuts so far has been for them simply to ask “where will you cut?”.  That is a perfectly valid question and it absolutely has to be answered.

Health care and education make up the vast majority of our spending. No matter how people feel that these areas are sacred, we simply must reduce how much we spend in those areas. We can’t afford a hospital on every street corner or a nurse’s visit to every household. While it will never feel like we spend enough in these core services, we have very real limits on what we can afford. We need to examine these areas and cut spending to a reasonable level.

Just proposing such cuts will take political courage. Following through on these cuts will take leadership and strength.

Klein was at his most popular while he cut Alberta’s spending by 20% across the board. Despite the howls of the unions and the left still harping about it today, it really wasn’t that bad when the cuts were happening. There clearly was a great deal of bloat within the civil service and we were all better for the trimming of it. “Infrastructure deficit” is a bullshit term that some use to try and knock the austerity of those times. Again it is trash and most Albertans see through it. There will never be enough schools, interchanges, fire stations etc. We can always use more. Tax dollars are finite though and we have to draw a line somewhere. Klein’s support began dropping significantly as soon as he began falling into the tired old PC pattern of spending our way out of problems. Albertans appreciate fiscal restraint when it is presented with good leadership.

Image ht to Roy Doonanco

Brian Jean has chosen to avoid taking any strong stance on cuts and is pursuing the mushy middle. This is not my idea of strong leadership but I guess it is a strategy. I can’t help but remember Jean’s abysmal debate performance where he almost mindlessly answered every question by stating that he wont raise taxes. He literally sounded like some sort of broken record. I remember all too clearly sitting in a room full of volunteers on one of the campaigns. We had put up a projector screen and bought some beer and pizza to give our volunteers a night off. We hoped that they would be invigorated in watching the debates. We found ourselves dejected. That was the night that I truly began to realize that we were not going to win that election. Notley showed energy and vision, Prentice showed classic arrogance and Jean was inanimate. We are paying so dearly for the lack of principled leadership in that debate today.

Maybe Jean will show some more strength after the unity vote is finished with. Perhaps other candidates will spur some vigor out of him. Maybe Jean’s strategy of avoiding strong stands will actually pay off and he will win the leadership. I personally don’t think so.

Assuming a successful unity vote, the leadership race will very likely be determining who our next premier will be.

It will take vision, leadership and a true plan with policy specifics in order to win that leadership.

I do look forward to seeing who emerges from the pack with the above qualities as the race unfolds. We need some real policy discussion and we need it soon.

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