It’s the Economy, Stupid Podcast – April 20

Here is the weekly podcast edition of the It’s the Economy, Stupid podcast. Hope you like it.

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0 Responses to It’s the Economy, Stupid Podcast – April 20

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great job on the podcast this week. Thank you for doing your part to keep ED on the radar screen.

    Some comments on the content:

    1) No Biotechnology sector: you seem to be overlooking the success of the aquaculture industry where there have been significant advancements utilizing biotechnology. NB has good research capacity and successful companies that are exporting and expanding through foreign investment. While it may not be biotech in the traditional sense, this is truly a NB success story where we have identified an expertise. While the world is currently preoccupied with energy, food and water will emerge as major issues in the near future so being a world leader in farmed fish production is not a bad gig.

    2)Municipal ED: What are your views on the Enterprise networks’ impact on municipal ED efforts? My impression is that with the introduction of the Enterprise offices, municipalities have backed away from their own ED efforts.

    BTW, climate change adaptation is becoming a municipal issue; basically it accepts that the climate is happening and will impact infrastructure and services e.g. the resulting affects on road maintenance and design standards, water supply, drainage, building codes etc. I think your guy is being proactive on a relevant city issue but I agree ED is important too.

    3)Paralysis by Analysis: I think you make an excellent point that ED efforts need to move quickly without all the bureaucracy. Being able to act quickly should be one of the few advantages for a small province. That said, many of our ED people have inadequate knowledge of the existing businesses and infrastructure in the province so one qualification I would add to your suggestion is that ED staff need to have excellent (much improved) awareness of business in NB so efforts are complementary rather than conflicting.

    4)Passing the buck: You are bang on. We need a solid ED strategy and I do not think we have had one for some time; at least it is not public. The prosperity plan and the self sufficiency plan had elements of it but they were far too diluted, vague and buried by slogans and political messages. As you pointed out, the PEI plan has some good features; focused on specific sectors relevant to PEI, supported with infrastructure, supported with financial investment, specific targets to measure against (within the lifetime of the government who set them)

  2. David Campbell says:

    You are correct about aquaculture. It is interesting that the sector consolidated and now there is basically one (1)? firm left (Cooke)? But you are correct that is an example of biotechnology. But, overall, I have seen the figures. New Brunswick has the least amount of biotech activity as a percentage of GDP of any province in Canada.

    The municipalities need to work closely with the Enterprises. IMO, if the Enterprises are an extension of BNB that doesn’t make much sense. It should be the other way around. The Enterprise should be an extension of the local municipality (ies) involved. But, beyond that, when there are multiple municipalities under a single Enterprise, there are local things that can’t be accomplished by an Enterprise and that requires a municipal effort.

    On the climate change issue, remember the prospective councillor I was talking about wants to deal with the ‘effects’ of climate change – not the causes. That’s a world of difference.

  3. nbt says:

    The Enterprise should be an extension of the local municipality (ies) involved. But, beyond that, when there are multiple municipalities under a single Enterprise, there are local things that can’t be accomplished by an Enterprise and that requires a municipal effort.

    This is where I find difficulty with your philosophy on ED. The reason? There is absolutely no accountability in the Enterprise system (they are unelected). Plus, most of the board members are hand picked by their peers which always tend to be too close to government stakeholders (which creates a partisan bias).

    And historically, these types of regional development agencies in NB (with their partisan biases) tend to award friends and backers of their party of choice with grants, loans and peferential treatment. That makes for a lot of unaccountable people holding taxpayers money. What are they doing with it?? Who knows?

    But taxpayers have a right to know.

    You may see my points as over-the-top because you trust government (and see it as a positive intervenor into business), but as long as there are scandals going on yearly with our money, I will push for more openness and accountability with how taxpayers money is spent. It is the only way to clean up the mess this philosophy (regional development) has already created.

  4. Anonymous says:

    PEI: After what looks like a sensible ED plan, today (Tuesday) the farmers and fishermen marched in the streets if Charlottetown protesting that they were overlooked and deserve more handouts.

    No doubt a food supply is critical and these guys perform an important job for us, but when does it stop? There are more federal funding programs for these guys than there are politcians. EI was re-designed for fishermen. They get a variety of tax breaks on income, land and fuel. They enjoy excemptions on costs other employers encounter like workerman’s compensation. They get numerous vet and agriculture testing services free or subsidized.

    They are protesting looking for breaks because of rising feed costs and fuel prices.

    There comes a point when you can only do so much. If there are too many handouts and tax breaks, these business people will lose all ability to be competitive. Meanwhile, grocery stores are making record profits. The problem is not a lack of handouts. It is time for fewer subsidies and a higher percentage of food sales revenue reaching the farmers.

  5. David Campbell says:

    Accountability and viability are two different things.

    As for agriculture, I have a hard time justifying the ongoing subsidization of any industry. Agriculture is the most subsidized industry in Canada – by far. There was a study done a few years ago that found $5 in subsidies for every $ in profit in the New Brunswick agriculture industry.

    But this is entrenched. It has to do with international subsidization. It has to do with the Americans. One day you should search my blog for my milk rant. We pay twice as much for milk as the Americans because of government regulation. At the same time, the government’s own studies show kids don’t get enough milk. We could bring it in by the boat load at half the price but we won’t.

  6. mikel says:

    Lots of good comments lately. First, for NBT, accountability IS very important and I always agree about that. THe problem with HIS philosophy is that of course the private market is ALSO ‘unelected’ and unaccountable and it is impossible for people to even KNOW about the decisions they make and the repercussions of them-because they are private.

    David at least is being ‘realistic’, and so, by the way, are the fishermen. WHen you live in an economy like ours, you do what you can to survive. People on the margins have been complaining about the monopoly in grocery for quite some time and nothing gets done, you don’t even find a mention in the newspapers.

    A study I read years ago said that canadians overpay on food items by 40%, and its not just milk. As mentioned above, thats a problem with the whole chain of food distribution. But as a farmer or fisherman, what would YOU do, try and take on the guys who buy from you, or try to do what has succeeeded in the past and get a few bucks from government by making noise. That ALWAYS works (well, not always).

    The fisheman and farmer at least have a more valid point-the ‘market’ simply doesn’t pay ANYONE what they are worth. As a society we can simply admit that we can get EVERYTHING for cheaper from south american and chinese slaves and dump virtually the whole population. Once these new big ships are built then even big ticket items will be cheaper, thats of course an ‘economic development’ plus-having people work for nothing. That would wipe out most of ontario. Fortunately Alberta’s money is in the ground, but say we hit a worldwide glut and prices fall, both Newfoundland and ALberta are ALSO screwed,so what country is leftt?

    It’s at least GOOD economic sense to subsidize farmers and fisherman,especially fishermen, because they tend to spend their money locally. And again, compared to the subsidies thrown around to the BIG corporations, these dollars amount to very little.

    As for milk, government isn’t just on the subsidy chain, they are complicit in the ‘industry’. With all the hormones and bad feed which cows get, milk is probably the WORST thing you can drink. Studies have confirmed for years that milk actually LEECHES calcium from human bones, and the only benefits from it are from the vitamins which are ADDED.

    We switched to soymilk long ago, which also has many of the same additives, plus the benefits of soy, which far surpass any you can get out of milk. The government food guide hasn’t even addressed the fact that because of the ‘chemical revolution’ vegetables in studies show a 30% reduction in vitamins over forty years ago whent he food guide was created. But the milk story is a whole other issue.

  7. Anonymous says:

    With food a critical resource, some subsidization makes sense but when we have so much subsidization, why not go all the way? We might as well put farmers and fishermen directly on the government payroll and have the land and boats owned by the government. That way, it truly protects taxpayer investment. e.g stops the farmers from selling their land to sub divide or selling it to Irving or McCains.

    The security of the food chain would represent some value for the money we pay in taxes rather than filling the pockets of the minority group of farmers and fisherman who do well or making Sobey’s rich with subsidized supply.

    OMG, Mikel is having an impact on me. I sound like a Socialist.