Bigger than one political party

We’ve all been told by our mothers and the police, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it likely isn’t’, yet in desperation or greed, we so often ignore that sage counsel.

It’s not just get-rich schemes that capture us. Too often we let politicians convince us that solutions to complex, interconnected economic and social issues can be solved with a very simple fix.

We’ve seen it in the United States with the ‘‘Make America Great Again’’ sales pitch. Their President’s simplistic fixes–tax cuts, tariffs and protectionism to solve Midwestern State’s economic woes is showing how easy fixes so often hurt the people who were the most desperate and the most loyal.

The latest American example of an easy-fix gone-wrong was the announced closing of four General Motors (GM) plants in the Midwest and the elimination of 12,000 high paying jobs and tens of thousands of indirect jobs.

The financial pages in the Economists have for months reported how corporations, including GM, used much of their tax savings to buy back shares rather than re-invest and create jobs.

With fewer shares and significant cost savings from plant closures, the value of GM shares will increase.

Those increases will slightly help ordinary individuals’ pension funds, but the big winners are its directors and major shareholders, most of whom have never set foot in rural America.

American steel and aluminium tariffs against Canada and other allies made car plant closures even more attractive.

Many of the American President’s simplistic fixes hurt Canada badly, but the harm it did to his loyalists in Midwestern states was morally irreprehensible.

Mexico seems to be the only Amigo to escape unscathed from GM’s decision.

With an election pending in Alberta, the same ‘easy-fix’ solutions for our oil industry are being propagated. A recent international report dropped Alberta from one of the top 10 places to invest in oil and gas to 44th.

The far-right Fraser Institute immediately claimed high taxes and the cost of regulations were the culprits. How dumb do they think we are?

The absence of refineries in Canada, adequate infrastructure to get product to market and the highly discounted rate for Alberta bitumen in the United States are the many and complex reasons why investment in Alberta oil isn’t prudent today.

Let’s also not forget the exaggerated price differential since October is directly related to the number of American refineries offline for scheduled maintenance.

Albertans, the Alberta government and oil-based communities are desperate, but the fault is bigger than one political party.

It’s certainly bigger than Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Notley who have had a mere three years to work on a pipeline solution.

Mr. Scheer, leader of the federal Conservative Party, seems to have conveniently forgotten the government he was part of for 10 years made zero progress on pipelines. And the provincial Conservatives had more than 40 years in power yet never did the hard governing of diversifying our economy and breaking away from our dependence on the United States.

The struggling workers in the US Midwest bought the simplistic fixes of ‘America First’ because they were desperate. Their loyalty to their political leaders’ simple answers to complex problems is being exposed today as hurtful lies.

When desperate, we want simple, quick answers, but, alas, complex problems aren’t simple and are never solved quickly or perfectly.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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