What is government for?

I have been asking myself this question off and on for a number of years now.

Take that whole Digby-Saint John ferry situation. The reality is I don’t want to debate that specific situation because I just don’t know enough about it.

However, I did react negatively to the media reports that both the NB and NS governments have no interest in ‘subsidizing’ that ferry. And, of course, the term subsidizing was put out there like the “dirty” word that it is.

Why do we have government? Why do I pay 40% of my income in taxes?

Do we want government to play a role in the development and support of transportation infrastructure in our province?

Am I wrong here? I mean they pour hundreds of millions into the highways with great fanfare. But are highways the only form of transportation infrastructure? They nickel and dime airports. They outright refuse to support upgrading the rail infrastructure (and in fact I am told they levy fairly significant taxes on the rail) even though Quebec has spent millions upgrading their rail infrastructure to facilitate more efficient rail transportation. Ports? I don’t know anything about our ports.

All I know is that they dump more and more into health care. The marginally cut taxes and are left with millions less in revenue that when spread over all taxpayers results in only a few bucks per person per month. They don’t want to support economic development.

What does government do? Specifically, the provincial government?

The NB Biz Council is railing about the lack of effort put into training the workforce. An other group a couple of days ago called for Jody Carr’s resignation over the lack of effort to train workers.

They don’t want to support transportation infrastructure beyond highways.

They have cut economic development spending and it’s now about 50% of what it was as a percentage of total budget expenditures.

They have done almost nothing to promote the use of the Internet – another kind of transportation infrastructure.

I’m not a socialist. I don’t advocate central planning and government running industries (like auto insurance). But in the 21st Century, there must be some role for government beyond health care management. There must.

Maybe I should stop reading the JK Gailbraith bio or maybe I should turn off the radio and put down the newspaper.

But at the end of the day, the collective called New Brunswick has a few overarching and very serious challenges – most of which have been debated in this forum.

That’s what I want from government.

I am so happy that Shawn Graham – at least to date – is not playing the health care card.

The Liberals will be forced to continue to dump piles of money into health care. Without structural changes (on financial and wellness) that is a given.

But abdicating all other responsibilities of government to spend all the time on health care is silly.

Ironically, I am not necessarily advocating for subsidies to the Digby thing.

Now you know how my freakish mind works.