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.