Unfortunately, I am not a raving lunatic

There are a few people who are determined to throw me in the camp of the hard right  zealots.    For example, I got a couple of emails this morning suggesting “what is wrong with the social safety net”?  Do I want to throw old people  and the unemployed out on the street?

Not really.   In fact, if you read the column you will get to this exact quote:

“I am not criticizing the social safety net. In a developed and prosperous country such as Canada, it is laudable that we carve off a portion of our national income to provide for the elderly and the poor and to provide programs such as unemployment insurance and workers’compensation. “

 

My point is that we need to have x people working and earning employment income to pay for the social safety net used by y people.  It seems reasonable to me that we need to understand this dynamic and start to show some concern when the ratio between workers and those receiving government transfer income starts to narrow.

Take Ontario for example.  Every single CMA and CA area in the province saw a worsening ratio of employment income to government transfer income between 2001 and 2010 (note that the Ottawa CMA includes part of Quebec so it is not in this table) while every single CMA/CA in Alberta saw its ratio of employment income to government transfer income widen from 2001 to 2010.

 

But there is a broader point that was made to me by a journalist not that long ago.  He said my problem was I am not controversial enough.  I only have 700 or so Twitter followers and maybe a few hundred that read the blog from time to time.  He told me that if I made my message more ‘edgier’ I would get far more traffic and commentary.    In a world of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC – I’m CNN and CNN has the lowest ratings of all.

He told me I should even think hard about my Twitter feed.  A bold and controversial comment is far more likely to generate clicks than a normal statement.   Most people have hundreds if not several thousand Twitter feeds they are following and unless you shock them, they won’t click.

I thought about this a lot.  I am not really in the controversy game.  My message is that places like New Brunswick need to have a stronger economic agenda because communities need a solid economic foundation on which to achieve other social and community objectives.   We need to have enough economic activity to skim off the taxes needed to pay for good quality public services and infrastructure.

That’s not really a fringe position – it’s just a mostly ignored position.

After almost a decade of writing this blog and hundreds of columns in local, regional and national press – I’m not sure we are any more serious about the kinds of fundamental reform to our economic policies than we were before.  In fact, the old timers have spent a lot of time suggesting that New Brunswick was more proactive in the 1960s and 1970s than now.   I don’t know if there is data to back up that position.

Besides, remember when I was doing the video weekly blog a couple of years ago?  It got very little traffic and the guy that produced it said if we really wanted traffic we needed to introduce it with a scantily clad lady.

But that’s not my audience.  I’d rather have a couple of hundred people that are really concerned about the subject matter than thousands of people trolling for pretty girls.

So don’t expect much lunacy coming out of this corner any time soon.

 

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9 Responses to Unfortunately, I am not a raving lunatic

  1. Hart North says:

    A “picky. picky point about your “social safety net” quote. “… it is laudable that we carve off a portion of our national income to provide for the elderly and the poor and to provide programs such as unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. “

    Yes, both U.I. and Worker’s Comp. are part of our national accounts they are not, however, both are funded by public expenditure. Workers comp. is funded entirely by employer contribution and U.I. is (by and large) funded by employee and employer contribution.

    Just a bit of clarification before the discussion begins.

    Cheers,

  2. That is correct but they are all classified as ‘government transfer income’ and they do involve taxing everyone (a payroll tax in these cases) and providing the benefit to those in need. If we have less employment income we would have to increase the portion carved off for workers comp and EI.

  3. mikel says:

    Trouble is, the ‘right’ is FULL of comments like “hey, I like the social safety net…..BUT” and then go on to trash it like David Dodge. EVERYBODY gets nervous when you start talking about the social safety net, because NOBODY talks about making it stronger.

    So again, talk about investment all you want. Talk about how the feds and province should be investing in all kinds of things you like. Unless you REALLY believe, like Dodge and AIMS does, that what is HURTING the local economies is the social safety net, then there is no reason to even MENTION them. And like I said, if you get the investment there, the unemployment and ‘social safety net’ problems begin to go away. Problem solved. So there is no reason to even TALK about them. As soon as you do, people’s alarms go off-and the SHOULD go off. As for pro-activity, I disagree with that profusely,the problem for YOU is that you are always on the wrong side of the pro-active.

    So for example, Charles leblanc posted a video of a woman making ludicrous claims during the NBPower debate that Shawn Graham had billions of dollars tucked away in a secret bank account. It got TWENTY THOUSAND views on youtube. Your analysis of stuff is always interesting, but your ‘opinions’, well, during the NBPower debate you WERE ‘Fox News’. You were practically saying armageddon was coming if they didn’t sell and were vilifying those who fought that. You were Bill O’Reilly saying “hey, we HAVE to attack Iraq”

    As for the video, everything depends on content. Take a look at “Democracy Now”. They are now HUGE, but they’ve been around for DECADES. And they have a hostess who is, well, not particularly attractive, and not a particularly good speaker. As for numbers, I know people who have THOUSANDS of facebook friends, and then when they have a party that they’ve talked about endlessly, two show up.

    Your problem for ‘viewers’ is simply that you are ‘the news’ in an age when few people want the news. However, like anything else, it comes down to advertising. When “The National” started sinking, did they say “hey, bring in a babe”. Of course not.

    Personally though, I don’t think there is much long term advantage to the blog. I think you should get involved in politics. THEN not only would you have an effect on policy, but the blog would have a wider purpose.

  4. Rupert Penjab says:

    *My point is that we need to have x people working and earning employment income to pay for the social safety net used by y people.*

    Firstly David: we have to remember it was the damn “economists” that got us into this situation in the first place. What situation? you ask. The situation where it is no longer economically feasible to manufacture much of ANYTHING in this country. It was economists making the recommendation to those in power to open up our borders to goods manufactured by folks who can afford to work for a tenth of the wages a Canadian, doing the same job, makes.

    And now, to cover up this obvious mistake, we have the very same economists recommending that we give away our finite natural resources, at fire sale prices, to artificially prop up our economy, until they run out, leaving us little better off than Haiti.

    And you muse: why economists aren’t “popular”? (and I muse: why they aren’t taken out and shot?)

  5. mikel says:

    Just to counter the above, anybody that thinks economists have political power is delusional. Any economist making those claims are simply lackeys of the corporate sector. We really are living very much in a time where, for lack of a better word, war lines are being drawn. And most of the world is realizing that corporations are directly opposed to individuals. This obviously is a generality, but if you are sucker enough to believe that the new owners of Radian6 are in love with New Brunswick and will do whatever they can to help NB prosper, well, good luck finding support.

    Those at Fox News are corporate media, which knows rule number one is to NEVER talk about the economy. Because their position just can’t be supported-heck, their OWNER is practically being tarred and feathered in Britain and many of their cohorts are now sitting in jail, how often is THAT mentioned.

    But David does tend to come down on the side of the multinationals and the ‘bigger is better’ side. Essentially towing the government line, and towing the government line is NEVER a populist position. Those who support you already have the organizational structure to support themselves, they already have the ‘power’.

    But David would be a shoe in for a mainstream political party, like the tories or liberals. And unlike them, anytime he makes a position statement, readers can simply look up the blog to find out what he thinks. In short, unlike other politicians, it would be difficult to lie. And while he does have positions, usually they aren’t that extreme, and he seems far brighter than the current crew.

    Most importantly for a politician, he actually says “I don’t know” in many cases. However, I know this is of no interest to him, but unfortunately we are at a point where the ONLY people who are going into politics are those that SHOULDN”T. It’s the people who DON”T want anything to do with politics that should get more involved. It’s sad, but true.

  6. Chris Baker says:

    David –

    I would like to make two points.

    The first is that, if you feel that David Dodge and AIMS share the same point of view, you know very little about either. Yes, both embrace capitalism or have a free market orientation, but their views on the role of government in society is poles apart. To me, this is like saying Bob Rae and Conrad Black hold similar political views. Sure, they may believe in some of the same things but that does not make them ideological twins.

    The second point is with regard to the journalist’s “advice.” Your public role has never been about attracting readers, followers, media attention and so on. I believe that you use social media to inform and, hopefully, influence. Therefore, you take a more thoughtful, informative approach – with the occassional provocative finding or biting riposte.

    Therefore, a media strategy aimed at nothing more than increasing your profile would be unsuitable to the goal that you have set out. We have plenty of crazies and cranks out there; far fewer David Campbells.

    Yours,

    Chris

  7. Rupert Penjab says:

    *anybody that thinks economists have political power is delusional*

    You be sure to mention that to Mark Carney when you get a chance.

    We have to remember who it is exactly that hires economists. The “average Canadian” does not hire economists. Big business, and government(s) hire economists, to steer them in the right (for them) direction. That direction may benefit “joe average”, but many (most?) times it does not. For you to think, for one minute, that before an economic policy change is implemented, economists are not consulted by government/big business, it is you who is delusional.

  8. mikel says:

    Mark Carney is the head of the Bank of Canada, he is NOT an economist-he is a policy maker. He was hand chosen by Stephen Harper. Just because you get a degree in economics, that doesn’t make you an economist. His is a political position, which by definition has political power.

    Economists simply parrot what the power brokers say. Do you honestly think that oil sands production policy has been crafted by economists?? Get real. What economist is going to say “yes, selling at the lowest profit margin all the resources you have right now is a fantastic economic policy”. The last time canadians actually had a say in economic policy was during the 1988 free trade election. EVERY party had a position on that, and virtually NONE of that was dictated by economists, because economists for the most part had no idea what the future would be. Big business and unions both had economists on the payroll, and surprise surprise, the economists that multinational corporations had on staff thought free trade was wonderful. The union economists, surprise surprise, all thought it was terrible.

    There is a reason the Fraser Institute and AIMS are considered a joke. Because they ALREADY have positions on virtually every subject, and, once again, surprise surprise, all the economists that work for them have data to prove that their point of view is right.

    And as for the last paragraph, where did I say economists are not ‘consulted’? Read the comments before you criticize. Consultants have NO political power. They are hired to consult. They provide information. Mark Carney doesn’t make ‘recommendations’ to anybody, people make recommendations to HIM, and he makes the decision-not his ‘consultants’.

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