Need to think long term

I absolutely hate all the cynicism around when it comes to politics. The media thrashed Paul Martin for proposing tax cuts and other programs over a ten year time frame when he was in a Minority position. They are now slamming Stephen Harper – seriously slamming – over his ‘2050’ targets for the environment.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a critique of the Conservative’ green plan. I haven’t read it and I am not qualified to speak to it even if I did.

But I will say that in politics today if the government plans ahead more than 1-2 years they get hammered in the media and by the pundits. As a result, governments are thinking more and more short term and that can be very dangerous when it comes to issues of long term significance. Economic development is one such issue that needs 20-30 year thinking. I would suspect the environment is another. But as I have said before, there needs to be short term targets and measurements. Just saying you will fix the economy in 10 years (Lord) or 20 years (Graham) means nothing without year by year incremental success.

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0 Responses to Need to think long term

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think that’s fair. Anybody who reads the plan is entitled to comment, its not like its particle physics or something.

    But you are confusing two issues, what government DOES and what government SAYS. And like I said, when it comes to politics, people have EVERY right to be cynical. Canada is the least representative ‘democracy’ in the industrialized world. Afghanistan and Iraq are more representative, what does that tell you.

    A government exists for only a short time frame (at least that they can count on) so its the ‘incremental’ details that are primarily important. Hell, people were talking about electric cars in the fifties and governments were saying that in fifty years thats what we’ll all have.

    It’s one thing to state that a problem will take more than your term to fix, but when there are NO incremental movements, then people are right to say you are full of *&^%.

    This plan is exactly that. Essentially they are banking on improved technology that will ‘hopefully’ make oil sands extraction cleaner. And how much federal comment do you think the new Irving refinery will have? Any?

    Try to pin them down, but the VERY least would be a federal environment review, however, under this government even that may become a joke. If the feds DEMAND that they do an EIA then you can assume that they at least have the stones to put something behind the environment, but that’s a pretty tenuous prediction given how much priority they give to something like harbour cleanup as opposed to sports complexes and tax rebates for organized sports.

    That’s of course not partisan, the liberals weren’t meeting kyoto, but they were making strides, things you don’t find out about until a new government comes into power and starts cancelling research and consumer programs.

    The irony is that by far it is ‘green’ policies that are most labour intensive, exactly what we are looking for. Unfortunatel, it is the ‘moneyed interest’ that benefit from current policy, and anybody that thinks Canada isn’t a business run society is living in a fantasy world.

    So it’s the incremental decisions that are most important. If you are in office now people are right to say what are you doing NOW. I think you are wrong that ‘government is short sighted’, you should really look more closely at how political decisions are made. It’s more accurate to say that BUSINESS is short sighted, a critique long made of the investor run society. So again looking at forestry, government is ignoring its own staff in acceding to the demands of big business. And of course Irving is buying up land elsewhere, and UPN can leave anytime, so its no surprise they are thinking short term.

    Wherever there are investors interested, those are the short term decisions typically, and they effect government decisions throughout. People forget that government is not a single business, its a juggling act of interests,where usually those with ‘more’ interest make the calls.

  2. scott says:

    It’s useless to discuss this any further as it is almost certain that this bill will most likely die on the Order Paper, and therefore, never be implemented. Let’s face it folks, it just doesn’t have the support.

    I’m starting to think that it would have been much better to take the feebled Liberal approach of boasting about a commitment to Kyoto without actually doing anything to implement it. Now, there’s progress.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You’re right, David, in that we need a whole lot more long-term planning. The problem with our system is that governments don’t last that long–or can’t even plan to last that long. What one govt. plans, the next one might scuttle.

    A large problem with the education system, from which I am recently retired, is that there was never any long-term planning. This drove me crazy. You would never know if you would get funding for equipment or projects from one year to the next. And if you did get funding, usually the money had to be spent within a short time frame like 2 weeks. After a bit of experience with this, I always told my teachers to have their wish-lists ready just in case money became available.

    But this wasn’t planning–this was always a band-aid approach.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is of course a remedy for that besides the conclusion the comments above might reach (that we should stop having elections)

    And thats to get more power into the hands of the people. So again, we can go next door to Maine and look at the use of referenda. This limits the ‘drastic’ changes that one government goes through. There is also the far more desirable trait that Governors are selected separately than representatives, and the state has over two hundred of those.

    Partisan politics at the state level is far different, and of course educational policy is local. So that means you don’t have the see saw effect of massive and expensive governmental overhauls when a department needs to change its entire focus. These decisions are largely made by the people of the state, who,unlike parties, are less likely swayed in order to get votes.

    So that’s a trickier part, however, unfortunately Canada has always been ‘top heavy’ and ‘closed door’ heavy. As I’ve said elsewhere, in Switzerland it is parents that hire teachers and play a large part in selecting curriculae (and why shouldn’t they?)

    There is only one reason that each regional school district can’t get X amount of dollars for salaries, X amount for special projects, etc. That reason is of course that it is up to central bureaucrats, as well as political manouevering.

    Again, like economic development that’s a legislative problem. A recent article in a Vermont journal warned Vermonters that ‘a New Brunswick system is coming’, namely a centralized behemoth that citizens don’t understand and have no control over (and then people wonder why people ‘don’t get involved’ in their child’s education!)

    Of course nowadays its getting close to the case where teachers are redundant. The internet is the ‘calculator’ of just about every subject. Plato said centuries ago that you can’t ‘teach’ anything, and that largely seems to true. I always found it was the ‘atmosphere’ that was most important, and of course teachers set that (but that doesn’t mean its necessary).

    But legislation is more important than whether it passes or fails as it is an opportunity to examine options, something in our highly partisan country (with little actual environmental interest) doesn’t do much of. I’ve never heard even blogsites say any more than ‘I hate it’ if they aren’t tory, or ‘its the best one’ if they are.