Volpe’s ‘Madness’

One of my favourite movies is The Bridge on the River Kwai – a wartime epic that features ultimate bravery and betrayal and, of course, ultimate American bravado.

At the end of this film, there is a climactic scene. You think the good guys will win, the bad guys will lose and they all will live happily ever after. However, the whole thing implodes and within a few minutes everyone is dead and there is one of the most fateful endings in movie history.

All that’s left at the end is one soldier half-crazed repeating “it’s madness, madness” over and over again.

This scene pops into my head each year when NB Finance Minister Jeannot Volpe takes his little road show around the province looking for the public’s ‘input’ into the next budget. He states up front that due to the massive increases in health care funding, they will have to find elsewhere to cut (funny there was no mention of the supposedly significant new funding from the Feds for health care). He wants to have people tell him where to cut.

Guess what. Volpe and the Government cut each year more and more out of areas that fund the long term development of the province (like economic development) to fund short term needs (like health care). We already spend the least in Canada on economic development but you can bet Volpe and his Premier will slash even more this year.

But in their defense, they won’t be around to deal with the consequences – let the next round of stooges take care of it. Trouble is. That’ s what the last guys said. And the guys before them. And before them. And that’s why we are in the mess we are in now. We have the third lowest economic standard of living of any province or state in North America. Without the billions in Equalization and EI over the past decade, New Brunswick would have resembled a third world country.

That Bridge on the River Kwai scene running through your head yet?.

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