It’s the economy, stupid. It’s mine, all mine!

My favourite NB economist (turned court reporter?), Kurt Peacock, mentioned my blog “It’s the economy, stupid” in his TJ column yesterday.  I presented to a group in Halifax yesterday where the person who introduced me made some nice comments about the blog and its reach in Atlantic Canada – although he deduced from the blog that I would be a supporter of Mitt Romney – an observation that, upon reflection, is probably true.  I really like Obama – but probably lean towards Mass. Governor version of Mitt Romney.  But I digress.

When I google the term “It’s the economy, stupid”, I get the Wikipedia entry and then my blog.

So, does James Carville own the phrase because he said it way back when or do I own it because I have used it every day since October 2004?  If there was a big copyright battle over this, would I win?

I am not sure I have actually convinced many New Brunswickers that it is, indeed, the economy, stupid.  In fact, I probably should rework the term “It’s about a lot of things, but not the economy, stupid”.    I had hoped to move the needle on raising public awareness about the importance of the economic and economic development but after eight years of plugging away – there seems to be less interest than ever.  How many times has it come up during this municipal election cycle?  I mean beyond the boilerplate rhetoric.  How many municipal politicians will get elected because people think they have the strongest economic development platform?

Think back to recent provincial elections.  In the U.S. researchers now say there are only two measures that best predict the ability of a President to get re-elected: GDP growth and the unemployment rate.

In New Brunswick, re-election is based on not touching sacred cows or really annoying one of the special interest groups.

I’ll soldier on.  It puts food on the table and is certainly an interesting way to earn a living.

10 thoughts on “It’s the economy, stupid. It’s mine, all mine!

  1. > I… probably lean towards Mass. Governor version of Mitt Romney.

    > I am not sure I have actually convinced many New Brunswickers…

    Coincidence? I think not. Republican economics destroyed the economy, even the relatively benign Massachusetts kind.

    I don’t mean to be glib, but I do think the approach to economic development you’ve advocated resonates with people. People won’t support development if they feel only the rich will prosper from it.

  2. That is disheartening but you could be right. My focus has always been on policies and efforts that create good jobs for NBers and tax revenues for government to pay for public services. I have never advocated for deep tax cuts and I see an important role for government but probably more limited than many New Brunswickers. But the free debate of ideas itself should be applauded – even if my views don’t win the day (or influence the results).

  3. “probably lean towards Mass. Governor version of Mitt Romney.”

    Sheesh! Perhaps you ask residents of MA what they thought of his performance – so poor he did not bother to re-offer. What data drive you to the position that ‘MA’ Romney would be an improvement over Obama (assuming that ”MA’ Romney’ even exists – a gigantic and unjustified assumption)?

    Given the miserable performance of conservative admins around the world, perhaps your default position needs adjustment.

  4. >I have never advocated for deep tax cuts and I see an important role for government but probably more limited than many New Brunswickers.<

    You know, the true measure of "integrity", is speaking what you believe. As long as you are not trying to get elected in NB, a "just kidding" situation (the election promises, not trying to say anyone with a measure of sense should not run, just be prepared to be a liar).

  5. Another consideration–and this from someone visiting the Maritimes–is the difficulty to get here and the cost…the 22-hr train from Montreal? The $500 one-way flight from Halifax to Boston (and that’s on the low end), no ferry to Maine? No bus in NB and bus schedules in N Scotia not linked to ferries??

  6. I don’t think you’re message resonates for several reasons. The first you alude too. Your very title calls people stupid, and the underlying message is if you don’t see David’s economic point of view, then you are likely stupid.

    Secondly, much of the data you put out there has an underlying message could be perceived as attacks people on the low end of the income scale, or that are under educated. Having read your blog for several years, I have come to the conclusion that you don’t necessarily believe that, but it generally focusses how EI is broken, or our sick days are high. Without context, what people read is David thinks NBer’s are lazy and freeloaders, even if he doesn’t believe that.

    I suggest your ideas are not without some merit, but talking down to the audience makes them resist the message.

  7. You’re looking for resonation from an economics blog??

    I completely disagree, I think in NB there has ALWAYS been a focus on the bottom line.

    I remember the good old days, when there was a lot more political pontificating, and quite a few jabs here at the Irving media. Now its mostly economic analysis, and pretty dry (but interesting). Right around the time you stopped the comments the blogs got very generic-very interesting, but I didn’t miss not commenting because there was really nothing to comment ON.

    I doubt people get ‘turned off’ because of the title, you’d have to be REALLY stupid to get that kind of offended. However, in hot button topics you kind of tend to stand in no man’s land. You essentially defend the powers that be (selling NBPower, more fracking), when that government is gone, there is nobody left to stand WITH you.

    I do think it says more about the province than it does about you. I remember an anonymous guy who started a blog that was an offshoot of CHarles Leblanc’s. He used to write horribly conservative stuff, but I think he had about a dozen politicians who wrote comments-WITH their names-and they were mostly liberal party reps. I remember Burke even offered him a job!

    But the big thing about ‘resonating’ is the question of ‘what is it you want to resonate?’ The government, for example, ONLY talks about the economy. So what is your complaint? That people aren’t all buying into the government’s line? That’s pretty tough when the government announces spending half a million dollars to hopefully find savings in health care. Or are you upset that some people are protesting fracking? Did you want to see EVERYONE with hands up cheering? Did you want to see everyone cheering the selling of NBPower? If you do, then personally I’m GLAD that’s not resonating.

    Again, you don’t see much result, because like I’ve said before, you guys never advocate any policies. Charles blog could be measured as to the success or failure of the new residential tenants act-and its no surprise that as soon as he stopped talking about it, it languished in no man’s land for four years. As others have said, its easy to criticize, everybody does it. But there needs to be a policy or something to push. Unless you are just hoping for economic groupies in tight T-shirts cheering “more foreign investment, more foreign investment!”

    I don’t think you see the ‘resonance’ because you are preaching to the choir. The difference is, you think the solution is to bend over for specific industries, and certainly not everyone sees it that way-and why should they? And personally I think they are right not to. But your economic analysis comes down to “here’s how bad it is in NB” and most people KNOW that almost instinctively already.

    The other reason I don’t think you get more government reaction HERE is a line I remember from “A bridge too far”, which was “you’re terribly bright, and that tends to make people nervous”. It’s good-and bad-that you’ve got some principles. I think if you were against the NBPower sale and against fracking, and posted ‘some’ of the research those oppose have, you’d be all set for a pretty lucrative political career.

    But to be fair. We now know the government was lying, and that NBPower is in better shape than they maintained. And we know that fracking is not lucrative-its so cheap even Windsor Energy says it is looking for oil. But although you’ve talked down to those who maintained both of those views, as said above, you’ve never really granted any credence to those views.

    In short, you really have no issues that you really push hard. When you push hard, it seems to be against people who are pushing HARDER in the opposite direction. Not sure that makes sense, but finally, just wanted to add, that no blog can really be measured by the blog owner, you just never know where it may lead. Charles has a great blog because 30,000 of the poorest New Brunswickers now have rights, and because the police happened to pick on him in Saint John when they shouldn’t have. THAT ‘resonates’ with people, but only SOME people (as you can see by his comments section). I think maybe part of the reason you stopped the video podcast was the realization that you can’t ‘film’ economic analysis. I think a good video podcast would be you and that lady from the Purple Violet Press, as you both seem to have ‘sort of’ counter views on things, but a real drive to talk about New Brunswick.

  8. I enjoy your blog & columns and understand they represent a lot of work. Soldier on, you are helping New Brunswick create a better future for itself. It’s not easy but it will happen.

  9. David –

    You are a valued voice of sanity in the crazy (and often absurd) world of policy in New Brunswick. I don’t always agree with you – but you are always thoughtful and articulate. We need more “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”


    PS If you feel the title of this blog is insulting, perhaps you are taking the “stupid” part a little too personally.

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