Thanks to the person who put me on to UChannel. I am back up to 2-3 podcasts a day. I forgo watching the Biden/Palen, oops I mean Harper/Dion debate to listen to this podcast about Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
Nath is an interesting bloke. He talked about how early on India wanted to take a different path of economic development. They didn’t want the socialism of the Russian system, they didn’t want the boom/bust of the Latin American economies and they didn’t want the highly capitalistic model of the USA. So they crafted an Indian model and see that as the underpinning of the success they have had today.
I can’t remember all the interesting points he made but one stuck in my head. He said they tried to force economic interdependencies between the the Provinces. He used the example of building a coal fired power plant 1,200 kilometres from the source of the coal so that two provinces could benefit. He didn’t explain in detail but I think he was advocating this approach.
I think in the long term governments would be better off focusing on investing in infrastructure, education and other structures that make provinces attractive for investment and then promoting the heck out of the region for new business investment.
It sounds good at a superficial level but what happens when the environment changes and governments pull the plug (think federal shipping subsidies for Atl. Canadian manufacturers until the early 1990s when Cretien pulled the plug). I don’t think the government should build up these faux economies -whether they are built on shipping subsidies or subsidies directly to companies or massive income supplementation through evermore lucrative EI. I know I get hammered for saying that (here and when I go to the ‘Chi) but look at the population trend in Northumberland County – Miramichi – it peaks about the time EI was getting firmly entrenched in that area.
1951 – 42,994
1956 – 47,223
1961 – 50,035
1966 – 51,711
1971 – 51,560
1976 – 53,894
1981 – 54,130
1986 – 52,981
1991 – 52,983
1996 – 52,153
2001 – 50,817
2006 – 48,868
Obviously there is more going on here than just EI but it seems increasingly clear to me that the more bandaids the government puts on underlying economic problems, the more disinterested they are about fixing the underlying problems.
Let me tell you what I think. There are around 100,000 seasonal workers in New Brunswick that collect EI each year. The government (at least the Liberals) wants to make it even ‘easier’ for these folks to collect EI (total EI payouts have gone up something like 25% just since Stephen Harper made it ‘easier’ to collect EI a couple of years ago). They say this is a natural recognition of the seasonal nature of the workforce and government should support these workers.
I don’t agree. Even if 50,000 of those workers could be switched to year round work you would massively improve the economic potential of the province and many rural communities. You would also see a significant decrease in black market work. I’m not even saying scrap the seasonal work. I am saying that the time is right to look at going back to a time when guys had differnet jobs in the winter and in the summer. My father remembers a time in the Miramichi when men worked three and four different, seasonal jobs – cutting lumber, guiding sports, plowing snow, etc. Imagine now when those jobs actually pay good money.
Done. Sorry for the rant.