The link between change and sacrifice

Whoever put me on to the Council on Foreign Relations podcasts, thanks again. It makes for great listening while I take the dog for a walk or run on the treadmill. I heard a great panel discussion from CFR where they talked about the fascination with ‘change’. Everyone wants change these days but very few link it to sacrifice. In the U.S., if you poll people on this, 80% or more will want change. Change on foreign policy. Change on health care. Change on trade. Change on entitlements.

But if you actually tie this to sacrifice, the picture dramatically changes – the vast majority don’t want change if it in any small way may negatively impact them.

I remember the polling done for ‘self-sufficiency’. The vast majority of NBers said that the supported the notion of SS as long as it didn’t impact ‘health care’ or other things they see as important.

If self-sufficiency meant dropping large industrial electricity rates to attract 30 data centres but at the same time increasing our residential power rates by 20 bucks a month, no one is interested.

If self-sufficiency meant freezing health care spending for two years and plowing the $100 million per year into serious economic development efforts, no one is interested.

If reaching self-sufficiency meant raising any tax – personal, property or corporate, no one is interested.

If reaching self-sufficiency meant any serious seasonal EI reform, no one north of Minto is interested.

If reaching self-sufficiency meant radically overhauling the post secondary education system, no one is interested.

If reaching self-sufficiency means any sacrifice at all on my part, I am not interested.

Until it bites me on the arse. Then I get really interested, really quick.

If the pulp mill closes in my town, then I’d be willing to pay $20 more on my power bill.

If my husband has to spend 10 months a year in Alberta, I’d be willing to see health care expenditures frozen for two years.

If my kids all leave the province because they can’t find work here, maybe you can talk to me then about sacrifice.

I don’t know how to aggregate this up. How do you give New Brunswickers a global view? How do you show them that there is no gain without pain? More importantly, how do you show them the link between pain today and gain for them tomorrow?

How do you get someone in Moncton genuinely concerned about the plight of the north? How do you get someone in Fredericton concerned about the irreconcilable and terminal reality of increasing Equalization and decreasing population?

And when I say Fredericton, I mean it both literally and metaphorically.