Tag Archives: big government

10 of Ronald Reagan’s quotes on Big Government

  • Government is like a big baby – an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
  • Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving; regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
  • Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
  • Either you will control your government, or government will control you.
  • We are a nation that has a government – not the other way around…. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of haven grown beyond the consent of the governed.
  • Status quo, you know, that is Latin for “the mess we’re in.”
  • When a business or an individual spends more than it makes, it goes bankrupt. When government does it, it sends you the bill. And when government does it for 40 years, the bill comes in two ways: higher taxes and inflation.
  • Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself.
  • Man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics. As government expands, liberty contracts.
  • The best view of big government is in the rear view mirror as we leave it behind.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Optimistically Canadians will have a $252 Billion deficit this year and more than $1 Trillion debt

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux waits to appear before the Commons Finance committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday March 10, 2020. Photo: Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Niagara Independent, May 15, 2020 –  A budget deficit of $252 billion this year and a national debt of more than $1 trillion? But then, who is counting?

Two weeks ago the Parliamentary Budget Officer Report was issued and it projected that, given the combined impact of the pandemic and the collapse of world oil prices, Canada will have a budgetary deficit of $252.1 billion this year. The country’s GDP (the value of all goods and services produced) will fall by 12 per cent for the fiscal year. This will result in federal tax revenues falling by $60 billion, while the government’s program spending will increase by $168 billion.

To put all these numbers in context, it is the worst financial statement in Canada’s history. The deficit figure that is about to blot the ledger books of our country is greater than in any single year during the Great Depression.

That was two weeks ago. Fast forward to this week when Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux appeared before MPs to testify at a finance committee meeting. Giroux said the $252 billion figure he cited in his report is “optimistic” and that it is “a low-ball estimate” of how much the federal government programs will cost the federal treasury this fiscal year. He anticipated the figure to be higher as the government continues to spend billions of dollars on emergency economic support programs to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Giroux explained, “The figure of $252 billion is very likely to be the very optimistic scenario, as opposed to the number for the deficit for the current fiscal year. It’s very difficult to estimate what is a likely deficit figure given that details are missing for some of these potentially very expensive measures.”

Giroux also projected that the coronavirus lockdown could result in Canada’s debt climbing to surpass $ 1 trillion. The PBO replied to Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre’s question whether it was “possible or realistic” that the federal debt could reach a trillion dollars during this fiscal year. He answered, “Possible, yes. Realistic? Yes. Certainly not unthinkable.”

In follow-up to the PBO appearance, the Federal Department of Finance reaffirmed Giroux’s projection, saying that the department had no estimate on the amount of money spent by the Trudeau Government in the last nine weeks. As it turns out, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada is also not able to provide any performance audits of federal departments. It has been reported that the Trudeau Government has been withholding operations funding from the office, preventing it from conducting its regular schedule of audits.

So, one trillion dollars of debt: $1,000,000,000,000. Can Canadians carry this burden? The short answer is “yes.” Given the current projections, the PBO sees the federal debt-to-GDP ratio rising to 48.4 per cent this year (Trudeau Government has boasted it has always been able to keep it at a manageable 30 per cent). Even at this inflated rate, the debt-to-GDP remains below its peak of 66.6-per-cent back during the PM Jean Chretien years of 1995–96. In the mid-90s Canadians were paying 38 cents of every tax dollar to pay the interest on the national debt. As it is in our post-pandemic world, Canadians will be paying about 30 cents on the dollar in interest payments – but that depends on interest rates.  As Paul Boothe, a former senior bureaucrat at Finance Canada also explains, it will depend on the foreign government(s) who will set the conditions on the debt they will finance (about one-third of government’s debt).

For the PM, this is a problem for another day. Trudeau said recently, “There will be time after this is all done as we figure out how exactly this unfolds, where we will have to make next decisions on how that recovery looks. But right now our focus is on getting through this together as a country.” When pressed about how Canadians may be told what the country’s books look like, Trudeau offered, “We’ll find ways to share this with you but we have not yet been able to determine what the best way is of looking at a budget or an economic update or maybe another way of sharing information with Canadians about what we foresee for the months to come.”

It is difficult to keep track of the multiple financial commitments made by the Trudeau Government. The numbers are alarming. Last reported, more than 7.3 million Canadians have applied for emergency assistance. Another 96,000 employers have applied for the 75 per cent wage subsidy to cover about 1.7 million workers. Another 518,000 businesses have applied for $40,000 government-backed loans.

And there are increasing concerns being expressed by MPs and media about the lack of government controls in place to monitor its own spending. This week, details of how the federal government has suspended “compliance and enforcement” of the EI program during the pandemic were exposed. Federal civil servants revealed to media that massive fraud is taking place. There are as many as 200,000 cases being given the $2,000-a-month emergency payment; yet, questions to the PM about this $400-million-per-month-boondoggle were dismissed.

In a special column to the Globe and Mail, Preston Manning sounded an alert on the gross spending by the federal government. He wrote, “Sooner or later – and preferably sooner – Canadians will come to realize that the country is headed into a financial and economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude with, as yet, no realistic plan or demonstrated capacity on the part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government to deal with it.”

Last word goes to an unlikely left-of-centre character, former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who was also highly critical of the Trudeau Government’s spending ways. Mulcair wrote in a Sun Media editorial: “Trudeau will have created $10,000 of new debt for every man, woman and child in Canada during his time in office. The sums are staggering. Trudeau swatted away questions on that, not because it isn’t a huge problem but because he knows there’ll be an election before he has to bring in new taxes to start dealing with it.”

Mulcair concluded his criticisms with a lament for Canada’s future taxpayers, “Once again, this generation of leaders is putting everything on the maxed-out credit card of our grandchildren. One of the greatest inequalities in our society is that which exists between generations and it’s getting more and more unfair.”

(Is it now not accurate to say that with this $1 trillion dollar debt legacy, Trudeau Jr. has far surpassed the dubious legacy of Trudeau Sr., the father of Canada’s debt and its deficit-spending tradition?) 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/optimistically-canadians-will-have-a-252-billion-deficit-this-year-and-more-than-1-trillion-debt/

Canadians Will Need to Brace for the “Second War”

The Niagara Independent, April 10, 2020 – In one of his daily addresses to the Nation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions about the country’s economic wellbeing by stating that his government had always kept a “rainy day fund” of money in case of a federal emergency. The PM told Canadians to be reassured that, though “it’s raining,” the country’s economy is in a strong position to outlast this storm.

Trudeau’s rain analogy was a direct swipe at a Globe and Mail lead editorial that was critical of the Liberal government’s fiscal mismanagement through good economic times. The editorial began: “One of the many things we’ve learned from the pandemic crisis is the importance of saving for a rainy day. Canada has failed for many years to do so. Now it’s pouring outside, and both governments and individuals will struggle to cope.”

The paper poured down on the government’s “sunny days” performance, stating: “Justin Trudeau’s Liberals instead kept ramping up spending, taking advantage of a booming economy…  Their apologists patted them on the back for their wisdom and foresight. If Mr. Trudeau had broken a little promise, what of it? Everyone did that. And the size of the debt didn’t really matter anyway; it was its size compared to GDP, you see. As long as that didn’t soar, well, not to worry. No rain was in sight.”

The Trudeau Liberal’s record over four deficit budgets have left Canadians with $78 billion of new debt. The Fraser Institute reports that the combined federal and provincial net debt has reached $1.5-trillion. Mirroring this government debt, Canadians’ personal and corporate debt are at record highs. Former Chief Economist for Statistics Canada, Philip Cross, surmised, “High debt levels across households and governments mean Canada is quite vulnerable to a downturn in the global economy … It is easy to imagine how the dominoes might fall.”

Canada’s debt realities are very disturbing when considering the country must now brace for the economic storm front that just battered China. Last week The Economist reported on “the jaw-dropping bad economic data” coming out of China as a precursor of what the rest of the world will likely experience. “In the first two months of 2020 all major indicators were deeply negative: industrial production fell by 13.5 percent year-on-year, retail sales by 20.5 percent and fixed-asset investment by 24.5 percent. GDP may have declined by as much as 10 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020.”

With the Canadian government’s proverbial cupboard bare, its $82 billion federal relief package will be paid for by borrowing money at record amounts – placing a yoke on the shoulders of future generations of Canadian taxpayers.

More disturbing is the fact that Canada’s pre-pandemic economy was showing signs of strain and systemic weakness. Canadians were absorbing news of the loss of $20.6 billion investment in Teck Frontier mine project and the possible collapse of Quebec’s $9 billion Energie Saguenay pipeline project. In total in the last five years, more than $200 billion in investment has been lost in the Canadian resource sector. The Conference Board of Canada has assessed, “With the economy already on precarious footing, the added shocks of the recent rail blockade protests, the arrival of COVID-19 and a collapse in oil prices have brought the country to the brink of recession.”

This week, Statistics Canada reported more than one million Canadians lost their jobs in March. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that as many as 40 percent of small businesses are not expecting to survive the economic shock of the pandemic (the Business Development Bank of Canada factors that 1.1 million small-to-medium sized businesses provides approximately 7.7 million Canadian jobs). Also this week the Canadian dollar dipped further below the American greenback: if one were to spend $100 in U.S. dollars buying an item online today, it would cost $143 compared to $134 only five weeks earlier on March 1st.

Punctuating this cacophony of bad news, Bloomberg News reported Canadians’ consumer confidence has fallen to a record low, surpassing even the worst numbers from the Great Recession. Nik Nanos reported on Canadians stark non-confidence in their economy: “The reality is there is a second war going on, that has to do with our economic and prosperity being at risk… when you look at consumer sentiment it is a steep, negative cliff.”

Even with government relief, Nanos is not optimistic in the short-term: “For many Canadians their initial inclination is still not to spend but to squirrel away… we’re in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm right now from a consumer spending perspective. I would expect for any support Canadians get (including businesses) they will try to maximize it, optimize it, and to hold back…. just because you send out the cheques and support businesses and Canadians, it doesn’t mean they will automatically start spending.”

The numbers in the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index are a “bleak picture of economic anxiety across regions, age groups and most income levels.”  Three in four Canadians believe the nation’s economy will worsen over the next six months. One in three Canadians say their personal finances have worsened over the past year. Almost one fifth of respondents now say they are worried about losing work. Nik Nanos sums up the numbers by stating, “This is unprecedented because there is no structural problem in the economy right now. But this is like a hurricane bearing down on the Canadian economy and just wiping out prosperity and putting jobs at risk.”

In another interview this week, Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay and CIBC CEO Victor Dodig both projected that the economic fallout of the pandemic will last well into 2021. Businesses will assume a more cautious mindset which will prolong the economic recovery. Dodig summed it up by saying. “What worries me most is making sure our clients are able to bridge to a period of normalcy. It’s impacted everybody’s income, because it’s just stalled, and the income replacement hasn’t fully funded what they’ve lost. People will get back on their feet, but they’ll be a little bit more sheepish. They’ll manage more cautiously.”

In overcoming the health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, as Nik Nanos stated, Canadians will need to brace for the “second war.” With the country’s finances as they are, we can expect individuals and businesses to be shell-shocked. And then the deluge of government stimulus dollars is sure to leave Canadians treading water in a sea of debt for years to come. (Which reminds me of that quote… “War is hell.”)

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadians-will-need-to-brace-for-the-second-war/

On “Wild Pigs”

Take a moment to let this sink in.. and here’s a thought to remember as you read this: Marx said, “Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom and no one would have noticed.”

There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting Communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist regime.

In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question.  He asked: “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch-line. The young man said that it was no joke. “You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free food. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

“Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.”

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in Canada. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of government programs to feed us from cradle to grave, while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.

One should always remember two truths:
1.  There is no such thing as a free lunch, and
2.  You can never hire someone to provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.

If you see that all of this wonderful government “help” is a problem confronting the future of democracy in our country, you might want to share this with your friends.

God help us all when the gate slams shut!

A here’s a thoughtful quote to pass along:  “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”

.

(Received in my email today – and could not not reshare it. – cg) 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 quotes on bureaucracy

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” – Thomas Sowell

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.” – Honore de Balzac

“The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.” – Eugene J. McCarthy

“Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work.” – Albert Einstein

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.” – Javier Pascual Salcedo

“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.” – Franz Kafka

“Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist.” – Richard M. Nixon

“Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.” – Mary McCarthy

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.” – Laurence Peter

“Bureaucracy gives birth to itself and then expects maternity benefits.” – Dale Dauten

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Federal Government continues corporate welfare spending spree

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. 

The Niagara Independent, February 7, 2020 — Many Canadians feel the federal government should not be in the business of doling out corporate welfare cheques. From an economic standpoint, it is most often money down the drain. Yet the Trudeau Government continues to shovel taxpayers’ dollars to multi-million dollar corporations. There have been numerous corporate payouts and debt write-offs in the last four years. Perhaps the most egregious example of corporate welfare is the recent payout to credit card company MasterCard – yes, that MasterCard, which recorded a net income of nearly $4 billion in 2017.

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains took a break from hobnobbing with the wealthiest corporate leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to announce the Canadian Government is gifting $50 million to MasterCard to help the corporation set up a Vancouver office. Minister Bains held a press conference with the company’s CEO Ajay Banga (whose 2018 salary was more than $20 million and his net worth is over $200 million) and the only thing missing in the Minister’s presentation was the over-sized cheque and grip-and-grin photo. For this handout, MasterCard will develop a new centre to advance cybersecurity technology that is expected to employ 380 people.

When the Prime Minister was first asked about his Government’s decision to give MasterCard $50 million, his response was, “Over the past five years, we have been focused on growing the middle class and supporting those working hard to join it. That is exactly what we have done.”

With the Trudeau Government it seems every explanation includes platitudes about championing the middle-class. With the new federal cabinet, Canadians can now rely on the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity Mona Fortier and her new departmental bureaucrats to stand up for their interests, even though she admits she cannot define “middle class.” In Parliament this week the Minister stated, “Canada has no official statistical measure of what constitutes the middle class.”

But the greatest insult to taxpayers in the recent $50 million payola to MasterCard could very well be this: while corporate welfare was being debated in the House of Commons, the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity was touting the Government’s generosity in having provided Canadians with a $90-a-year tax break – which the Minister suggested will pay for a child’s summer camp. This Government has no issues with the logic that would have MasterCard receiving a $50 million handout while Canadians get handed $90 to supposedly pay for summer camp?

The Trudeau Government has a long track record when it comes to rationalizing their corporate welfare. Recall these handouts:

  • Former Environment Minister Catherine McKenna gave away $12 million to grocery chain giant Loblaws to purchase “low-emission” refrigerator units for its stores. Loblaws, having earned more than $221 million in profit in the prior three months, announced in January they will lay off 800 people at their Ottawa and Laval distribution centres.
  • The federal government handed Maple Leaf Foods $28 million (Ontario handed out $34.5 million) to help the mega-food company with construction of a new poultry operation in London, ON. What was not communicated in this corporate grant announcement was that when the new facility opens, Maple Leaf will close its facilities in Toronto, Brampton, and St. Mary’s – leading to a net job loss of 300.
  • The Trudeau Government doled out $595 million over three years to its favourite mainstream media newsrooms, picked by media’s anti-conservative labour union bosses at Unifor.

This list goes on: $2.7 milllion to Canadian Tire to put electric car charging stations at their gas bars, $40 million to BlackBerry’s automated car division even though the company’s CEO said they did not need the money and a $373 million loan to Montreal-based aviation company Bombardier (which later laid off 3,000 Canadian employees).

There are also those endless, inexplicable debt and loan write-offs for government-friendly corporations. Recall a few years ago, the Trudeau Government wrote off $2.6 billion to General Motors and Chrysler corporations only to have Chrysler lay off 1,500 employees in Windsor and GM to close its doors in Oshawa putting 3,000 people out of work. Then there is the government forgiving the Irving family of a loan worth $7.4 million – beyond the $35 million in non-repayable funding for its wallboard operations in the Atlantic. Imagine this government looking after the interests of the middle class by writing off multi-million dollar loans to James Irving, who is worth approximately $5 billion!

Of course there is the temptation to swipe at this Federal Government that is headed up by a Laurentian-minded, trust-fund Prime Minister. How does such a government relate to middle-class taxpayers when they are cozied up to their tight corporate fraternity? This is a fair question for the Middle-Class Prosperity Minister and her Liberal colleagues, given that the Trudeau Government wants to put middle-class Canadians at the centre of all its rationalizations. But, irrespective of the answer, middle-class common sense tells us that the cheques recently handed out to corporations were a waste of taxpayers’ dollars – and in principle and in practice, corporate welfare should end.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/federal-government-continues-corporate-welfare-spending-spree/

The Dead Horse Theory of Bureaucracy

The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

However, in the Canadian Government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
11. Declaring that because the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and, therefore, contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And, of course…

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

 

The joke was selected from Epic Political Jokes & Quotes – the 150-page-plus e-book bursting with funny guffaws, “shaggy-dog” stories and sideways jokes about politicians and politics. Read more about it hereOrder your copy here.

Three Contractors and the Fence

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence on Parliament Hill. One is from Ottawa, another is from Toronto, and the third is from Montreal. All three go with a government official to examine the fence.

The Ottawa contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he said, “I figure the job will run about $900 ($400 for materials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me).”

The Toronto contractor also did some measuring and figuring, then said, “I can do this job for $700 ($300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me).”

The Montreal contractor didn’t measure or figure, but leaned over to the government official and whispered, “$2,700.”

The official, incredulous, said, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?”

The Montreal contractor whispered back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Toronto to fix the fence.”

“Done!” replied the government official.  

And that is how our government procurement works.

 

FROM OUR E-BOOK

The joke was selected from Epic Political Jokes & Quotes – the 150-page-plus e-book bursting with funny guffaws, “shaggy-dog” stories and sideways jokes about politicians and politics. Read more about it here. Order your copy here.

This Federal Government Has a Spending Problem

The Niagara Independent, March 15, 2019 — Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be delivering his fourth federal government budget next Wednesday, March 19. Given the news that the government ran a budgetary surplus of $300 million through the first nine months of the fiscal year, many financial analysts and political pundits are expecting the Finance Minister to increase federal spending – yet again.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist for CIBC, forecasts in a Canadian Press interview: “I’m expecting cheques to go out somewhere. Remember that in the last election the party that won was the one party not promising to balance the budget… The recent sluggishness of the economy is just one more reason to expect a budget that sends out some goodies.”

With the looming election this Fall, Canadians are likely to see Minister Morneau make new (costly) promises relating to a national first-time homeownership initiative and a new national pharmacare program to provide “free” basic drugs for all. Canadians will be told the government can afford these promises based on our strong economic performance and an attractive debt-to-GDP ratio.

Interestingly, the federal finance minister no longer speaks of “deficits” and of “balancing the budget.” His favourite economic metric now is Canada’s “debt-to-GDP ratio” – the federal debt figure divided by Canada’s total economic production.

Pundits believe Bill Morneau will also use this budget address to explain to Canadians that he and the Trudeau Government have a firm hold on federal government finances. His speech is sure to pre-empt the Opposition’s attack of the Liberals fiscal record through the past four years.

As the oft-heard criticism goes, Justin Trudeau ran in 2015 on a promise to stimulate and grow Canada’s economy by spending small, annual deficits of $10 million. Somewhere in the last few years this Liberal plan was abandoned and, today, the Finance Department projects the government is on track to run deficits until the year 2040, which will add approximately $300 billion to the country’s federal debt. (ed. – This is not as bad as it sounds given our debt-to-GDP ratio.)

The Liberals’ continuous deficits are fueled by their unbridled government spending. Federal spending has grown from just under $300 billion annually in the last year of the Harper Conservative government to almost $340 billion for this past fiscal year. In reviewing the post-WWII period in Canada, PM Justin Trudeau has presided over the fourth-largest average annual increase (3.1 per cent) in per person program spending. This unflattering record ranks behind only his father, Pierre Trudeau (4.5 per cent), Lester Pearson (5.3 per cent) and Louis St. Laurent (7.0 per cent). In fact, this Trudeau Government has now recorded two of the three highest-spending years in Canadian history – 2017 and 2018.

To place the current Liberal Government’s fiscal record into context with those of recent Prime Ministers’, both PMs Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien recorded average annual per-person spending declines of 0.3 per cent. Over the Stephen Harper Government’s 10 budgets, that government recorded an average annual per-person spending increase of 1.5 per cent.

The difficulty with the Trudeau Government’s continuous overspending is brought into sharp focus in a recent analysis released by the Fraser Institute.  Jason Clemens, co-author of the Institute’s report entitled Prime Ministers and Government Spending, observes, “Wars and recessions clearly affect government spending, but to see this high level of peacetime spending when the economy is also growing could spell trouble for Canadian taxpayers in the future.”

Clemens explains, “The past few years have seen rapid and historic increases in deficit-financed government spending in Ottawa, at a time when the economy is growing. Higher spending often leads to higher deficits and more debt that ultimately must be paid by taxpayers, which is why current spending levels represent a burden to current and future taxpayers.”

But on Wednesday Canadians will not hear about these facts – about the challenges presented by continuous deficit spending. Instead, Finance Minister Morneau will tell us about the Liberals’ attractive election promises. He will reassure us with an accounting of the country’s favourable debt-to-GDP ratio. Yet, as the Fraser Institute’s report suggests, it may be best to remember that all this government overspending does not add up for Canadians’ fiscal future.

 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/this-federal-government-has-a-spending-problem/

5 taxing memes

On this the day of the fiscal update announcement in Ottawa, here are five of By George’s favourite memes on the subject of taxes. Seriously, it is not a funny matter…

taxes

bg232

taxes4

calvin-coolidge

churchill

 

Join By George on Facebook and on Twitter for daily missives that are both provocative and entertaining.

You can zap your friends with these memes by right clicking on these images and copy/save to Facebook, Twitter or into an email.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Canadians are Adrift on a Sea of Debt (Part 2 of 2)

The Niagara Independent, November 9, 2018 – Recent government announcements and news reports have provided Canadians with an accounting of how much our Canadian governments are in debt. The current federal government, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, seemingly pays no heed to the size of their annual deficits. Add the sum of all provincial governments’ deficit budgets and one soon realizes that our governments are burying us in a deep, dank financial hole; from which no Canadian alive today will likely climb out. The reported numbers are startling.

In Ottawa, the federal government recorded a shortfall of $19 billion for the last fiscal year, repeating the deficit amount of the previous year. The government reports its federal spending continues to rise and is now $332 billion – $332,000,000,000 – the highest amount of government spending ever recorded.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and finance officials will be quick to point out that the $332 billion figure is higher than in the past because of a change in accounting practices. But, this explanation does not address the fact that the federal government spending continues to increase.

The trend of overspending in Ottawa has resulted in the government adding almost $20 billion to the national debt in the 2017-18 fiscal year. As of March 31, 2018, Canada’s net debt is $758 billion. PM Justin Trudeau recently indicated his government will not balance the books before the election. Neither he, nor the finance minister, will offer a target date for when the Liberals can commit to a balanced budget.

In late October, an independent report on the state of federal finances assessed that the government will require deeper-than-expected deficits in each of the next few years. Canada’s federal parliamentary budget officer concludes that there is only a 10 per cent chance the federal books will return to balance in 2021-22, and a 30 per cent chance of seeing black ink in 2023-24. Are Canadians left to assume annual deficit budgets are here to stay?

In a recent Financial Post editorial, Fraser Institute economists provided no reassurances about the federal finance minister’s ability to manage budgets. They opine: “Morneau seems unaware of the risks of running deficits during periods of economic growth. Specifically, running deficits outside of recessions (or pronounced slowdowns) risks a permanent imbalance between spending and revenues, like what happened in Canada throughout the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s. Simply put, it didn’t matter if the economy was growing, slowing or in recession. Ottawa could not balance its budget.”

At the provincial level, assessments based on past and current performances appear just as bleak. Last week, the Fraser Institute issued a report on provincial government debt which underlines “a serious problem.” Deficit budgeting appears to be systemic throughout the country – and especially burdensome in the province of Ontario. The report reveals: “Over the 10-year period from 2007-08 to 2017-18, total net provincial debt grew from $317.3 billion to $645.7 billion for an increase of 104 per cent. In addition, 50 per cent of the net debt belongs to Ontario – a proportion much larger than its population share of 39 per cent.”

Factoring in all of the latest news on our government’s finances, the combined federal and provincial debt currently stands at an astounding $1.4 trillion – a figure that has increased by more than 60 per cent in the past decade.

Canadians often hear Finance Minister Morneau crow that Canada has a very low federal debt-to-GDP ratio of just over 30 per cent. But, again, when factoring in all levels of government collectively, the Canadian governments’ debt-to-GDP in the last 10 years has risen from 69 per cent to 87 per cent.

Lots of figures. Lots of debt. Why should Canadians pay attention? Simply put, our current government spending and the national debt load directly impacts future governments’ abilities to respond to changing circumstances and global pressures. Our governments’ deficit budgeting curtails Canadians’ choices and opportunities – today, and for generations to come.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadians-are-adrift-on-a-sea-of-debt-part-2-of-2/

Identifying “Governmentium”

A research institution announced the discovery of the heaviest element known to science.  The new element has been tentatively named “Governmentium “. Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 11 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

 

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

 

Since governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of governmentium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

 

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization causes some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

 

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.  The hypothetical quantity is referred to as “Critical Morass.”

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Just the facts on Canadians’ debt & taxes

To begin 2018, the Fraser Institute has provided Canadians with 10 financial facts about our government and its spending that we all need to better comprehend. By George reprints these alarming facts unedited.

 

1. The total tax bill for the average Canadian family will exceed $35,000 in 2017, or 42.5 per cent of their income—more than what the average family spends on housing, food and clothing combined.

 

2. While the federal government has claimed it “cut taxes for middle-class Canadians everywhere,” the reality is that 81 per cent of middle-class families in Canada are paying higher federal income taxes under the government’s personal income tax changes—on average, $840 more a year.

 

3. More than 60 per cent of lower-income families (those in the bottom 20 per cent of earners) in Canada now pay higher federal income taxes because of the federal government’s tax changes.

 

4. And that does not include the impact of the federal carbon tax mandate, the coming CPP payroll tax increase, the lowering of tax-free savings account contribution limits, or the proposed changes to the tax treatment of incorporated small businesses.

 

5. Canada’s high and increasing personal income tax rates on its best and brightest workers have made the country uncompetitive compared to other developed countries. The federal government increased the top federal tax rate to 33 per cent from 29 per cent, and increases to top provincial rates have been made in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and other provinces. Seven of our 10 provinces now have a top combined federal-provincial rate above 50 per cent.

 

6. The top 20 per cent of income-earners in Canada—families with an annual income greater than $186,875— will pay 64 percent of all personal income taxes and 56 percent of all taxes (i.e. income, payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, etc.).

 

7. As if this isn’t enough, the federal government has failed to achieve its election promise to run $10 billion deficits in its first two years and thereafter balance the budget. Instead, since coming into office, it has run deficits of $18 billion in 2016 and $20 billion this year, additional deficits of almost $80 billion are forecast over the next five years. There’s no immediate plan to balance the budget.

 

8. Large annual deficits mean government debt in Canada is ballooning. Federal net debt increased to $727 billion in 2016-17 with provincial net debt collectively at $633 billion. All told, federal and provincial debt currently stands at $1.4 trillion and has increased by more than 60 per cent in the past decade.

 

9. Prime Minister Trudeau is on track to increase per-person federal debt more than any other prime minister in Canadian history who didn’t face a world war or economic recession.

 

10. The federal government has claimed deficit spending will help grow the economy through expenditures such as the promised $100 billion in infrastructure investment over the next 10 years. But only $6.6 billion of that will be spent in 2017 (only about a third of the $20 billion deficit), and less than 11 per cent of the $100 billion will be spent on projects that have the potential to strengthen the economy.

 

The original Fraser Institute post can be found here:

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/blogs/ten-year-end-facts-canadians-need-to-know

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Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

The Dead Horse Theory

dead-horseThis theory is sometimes referred to as “Government’s Political Correctness.” Here’s the predicament:

 

The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount, then get another horse.” However, in Government, more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  • buying a stronger whip
  • changing riders
  • appointing a committee to study the horse
  • arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses
  • lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included
  • reclassifying the dead horse as “Living-impaired”
  • hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse
  • harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed
  • providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance
  • doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance
  • declaring that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses
  • rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses
  • (and, the choicest strategy) promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position

Government officials will also look to the root causes of the predicament before taking any action, i.e. what kind of parents it had, the horse’s colour, his socioeconomic background, perhaps the horse was bullied, or his mother was single, etc.

It is no wonder that, for some time now, government workers’ saddest refrain has been: It’s been so lonely in the saddle since my horse died…

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Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 Proverbs for Our Elected Politicians

On this Canada’s budget day, a day when we can expect our federal government to find new ways to intrude into our daily lives and mess about in our future prospects, By George reprints this priceless and timeless list of proverbs for elected politicians – of all stripes, in every level of government.

 

  1. Law is a necessary evil.
  2. Pass as few laws as possible, consistent with the demands of justice and the maintenance of order.
  3. Where custom is sufficient, there is no need for law.
  4. Do not pass laws that cannot, or will not, be enforced, for such breed contempt for both the law and the State.
  5. Penalties must be minimally sufficient to deter infractions, given adequate enforcement. Less renders the law ineffective; more inflicts unnecessary pain.
  6. There is an inverse proportion between the severity necessary to deter infractions and the certainty of punishment.
  7. Enshrine your principles in constitutions, codify your common sense in laws, and leave the rest to regulation.
  8. Even more than on your wisdom, the legitimacy of the State depends on your integrity.
  9. In public life, integrity requires not only an honest heart but an honest face.
  10. Your primary object must always be not the satisfaction of your constituents but the continued legitimacy of the State, for upon that depends the welfare, even the survival, of us all.

 

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

WSJ: Provincial Debt Unsustainable

The sirens are now going off south of the border that Canada’s provincial governments (namely Ontario and Quebec) are spending beyond their means and endangering their future taxpayers to a mounting tax headache.

Here is the Wall Street Journal’s news column: Canada’s Budget Watchdog Says Provincial Debt Unsustainable

The WSJ writes:

Canada’s budget watchdog Tuesday warned that the federal government’s push toward a budget balance masks a serious fiscal threat at the subnational level, where the country’s provincial governments are accumulating debt at an unsustainable pace.

The Canadian provinces’ fiscal performance has deteriorated since the onset of the global financial crisis, and the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer has issued other warnings on provincial government debt. But its latest report comes after major bond credit-rating firms this month downgraded their ratings on Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, and neighboring Manitoba.

In this article, WSJ identifies the largest culprits of Canadian debt.

Ontario and Quebec, the two biggest provinces by population, are carrying the biggest debt loads, with net debt-to-GDP ratios of roughly 39% and 49%, respectively. Quebec, after taking some austerity measures, projects a balanced budget this year.

Elsewhere, in Canada’s Financial Post, a headline today reads:
With twice the debt of California, Ontario is now the world’s most indebted sub-sovereign borrower

FP puts Ontario’s debt pile nightmare into context:

While Ontario’s population is about one third of California’s, its debt load is more than double that of the biggest U.S. state.

Is it not time for Ontarians to demand more of Premier Wynne and her Liberal Government than their tax-and-spend-and-spend-some-more approach to the province’s finances?

(ed. – Surely, we won’t accept that the answer is to wine and complain that the federal government must give Ontario more tax transfers? Should we not start with the notion that we begin to live within our means?)

Big Gov Stats

Public administration expert Donald Savoie calls ‘em as he sees ‘em.

In a recent study he has published, Savoie views the federal public service as (ed. -get ready for this vivid imagery!!)“a big whale that can’t swim.”

The whale-like simile is on account of the federal government having too many management layers and oversight bodies and spending far too much time churning out performance and accountability reports.

Fact: Canada’s public service has seven levels of executives. There are 6,500 executives at the first five levels (Ex 1-5) with associate deputy ministers and deputy ministers at the top of the heap.

Fact: The assistant deputy ministers – known as Ex 4s and Ex 5s – earn between $179,000 and $200,000 a year. Of the now more than 400 ADMs we have in the federal service, about seven of them a year will be promoted into deputy minister ranks.

This is an alarming number, given that the role of ADMs became smaller as the executive cadre grew over the past 25 years.

Overall, Savoie reveals, the executive numbers of the federal bureaucracy has soared nearly 50 per cent in the last 25 years, outpacing 12-per-cent growth in the overall public service. The big surge came in the 2000s when the size of the bureaucracy grew 35 per cent. The number of ADMs shot up 49 per cent while the numbers of those at Ex 1 to 3 levels jumped 68 per cent. The number of deputy ministers, led by new associate deputy minister positions, increased 25 per cent over the past decade.

Here are numbers relating to the federal ADMs as compiled by the Ottawa Citizen:

54: Average age of Ex-4s and Ex-5s
20: Average years worked in the public service
12: Years spent as executive before promoted to ADM
40: Percentage of ADMS who are women
50: Percentage who held three of their last four jobs in the same department
87: Percentage of ADMs in the National Capital Region
42: Percentage of ADMs who work in programs, services or operations
15: Percentage of ADMs who work in central agencies
8: Percentage working in policy
3: Percentage working in communications
7: Average number who get promoted to deputy minister annually
10: Percentage who retire each year
59: Average age at retirement

The full Ottawa Citizen article on ADMs can be seen here: ADM’s role diminished as top executives have become too insular and inexperienced – study

Equalization Payments and Ontario

Equalization payments are Canadian governments’ grand design to ensure all its citizens can live in a Province that will have the resources necessary to deliver similar levels of public services. This system has the Federal Government redistribute payments from those Provinces that are richer to those Provinces that are poorer. So, tax money is taken from the “Have-Provinces” and given to the “Have Not-Provinces” (sort of like a Robin Hood).

(An important note to make here is that, even with this redistribution of wealth, citizens across Canada do not enjoy similar levels of service. It falls to the respective Have-Not Provinces to responsibly administer the equalization payments received in order to meet their health care, education and infrastructure demands.)

This year, Ottawa will pay $17.3 billion, unconditionally, to six have-not provinces for the fiscal year that began on April 1. They are the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

Did you know?? 20 cents of every dollar that is raised by federal government taxes goes directly and unconditionally to Provinces – and this amount is at a 20-year high.

Ontario will get $20.4 billion from Ottawa in 2015-16 for health, social services and equalization (this total is up $1.3 billion from $19.2 billion last year). When looking at the increases paid to Ontario, the equalization payment to this largest of Canada’s Provinces has risen 88% since federal Conservatives have been governing the redistribution of payments in 2006.

Yet, for the Ontario Government, which has now recorded 10 years of deficits and are being squeezed by $11 billion of debt payments annually – of course, the equalization cheques are never enough. The Provincial Government refers to federal payments as inadequate and the Ontario Premier has repeatedly openly criticized the Federal Government for not giving Ontarians their fair share.

Surprisingly, many Ontarians think they are being short-changed with the whole equalization scheme. A recent poll found that 48% of Ontarians insisted their province paid into the pot when, in fact, it does not.

Yet the debt hole that the Ontario Liberal Government has dug for itself is so deep that it will take years of austerity for this Have-Not Province to turn things around. How bad is it? Well consider these four facts:

  • The McGuinty – Wynne Liberals have increased Ontario’s public debt to almost $300 billion, or by 115% since taking power in 2003.
  • The Liberals are raising spending by $2.4 billion this year – offering no specifics on how they plan to reduce the deficit.
  • With this year’s $10.5 billion deficit announcement, the province’s debt is still on track to balloon to $325 billion by 2018 (that is $23,000 per person in Ontario).
  • Ontarians pay $11 Billion per year for to service their interest on the Province’s debt. in 2014/15, more than nine cents of every revenue dollar collected in Ontario goes to debt interest payments and not towards government programs or tax reductions.

With this type of spending piled onto the out-of-control debt levels, no amounts of increased equalization payments will be enough to sustain the Ontario Government (mis)management of its economy.

 

Ontario’s public sector bounty

On the heels of the damning report from CFIB of earlier this week that revealed there was a growing disparity between private and public sector salaries and benefits, there comes a new Fraser Institute study that exposes just how wide the pay gap has become in Ontario.

The Fraser Institute released today: “How Compensation Spending Consumes Provincial Government Resources in Ontario.”   It notes the following facts:

  • Compensation for Ontario Government workers skyrocketed by 47% in less than a decade with the many generous public sector settlements awarded by the Liberal Government.
  • The 47% increase in salary and benefits for Ontario public sector workers grew at a significantly faster rate than either inflation (15.1%) or the provincial economy.
  • Overall program spending (the amount Ontario spends every year after paying interest on debt and not including capital investments) rose 42% during that same period, from about $80 billion to over $115 billion. Spending on things other than compensation rose 39 per cent. And the number of government jobs increased by about 11%.
  • Now, in Ontario, because of the high public sector pay and benefits awarded, up to three-quarters of all new spending on programs goes to cover staff pay.
  • Prior to the 2008 recession, the Liberals doled out generous increases to teachers, doctors and other stakeholders. (Since 2008, compensation increases have slowed with the Government trying to come to terms with the year-over-year deficit. Today, the annual deficit is at $12.5 billion, which is amplified as a result of declining revenues in the Province’s slowing economy).

Lead author Charles Lammam made the point in releasing the report just because we are spending more on provincial bureaucrats does not translate to Ontarians getting more bang for the buck.

“It’s not entirely from new nurses, police officers, teachers or whatever… our analysis suggests it’s not necessarily going to improve new or better quality services in the province. When governments spend more it doesn’t necessarily translate into more and better services.”

This is precisely the rub. The ever-increasing costs of big government’s bloated workforce and out-of-control spending is at the heart of the arguments in many of By George’s previous “big government” posts.

Our bloated bureaucracy exposed (yet again)

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) released a telling report yesterday on private vs public sector jobs that confirms yet again the increasing advantage our government workers enjoy with their salaries and benefits.

The CFIB report “Wage Watch” exposes the bloated bureaucracy in Canada, documenting a 10%-15% “wage gap” between higher paid public sector workers and their private sector counterparts performing the same jobs.

The findings show workers in the private sector earn $8,150 a year less than their public sector counterparts, and work six hours more per week – for working the same job. The report notes that there is “a huge wage and benefits advantage for public sector workers over the rest of us.”

The Canadian public sector includes 3.6 million employees, which represents more than one in five jobs. With the math as it is, every 4 working Canadians are taxed extra to pay for the fifth government worker.

The CFIB comparisons use the National Household Survey, which represent average full-time employment earnings for more than 7.2 million Canadians. Important to note – the report excludes jobs such as police officers, firefighters, government deputy ministers, university professors and military personnel, for which there is no private sector equivalent (ed. – if the salaries and benefits of these occupations were included, expect the gap to be even greater!).

At 2010 pay levels, the gap is biggest in the federal government, where employees hold a salary premium of 13 per cent, which swells to 33.2 per cent when you factor in benefits.

This “overpayment” of Canada’s bloated public sector costs taxpayers $20-billion annually. For cash-strapped governments that is money that could be used to build roads, bridges and schools, fund health care or energy programs.

CFIB spokesperson Marilyn Braun-Pollon stated in media reports yesterday, “Our research findings point to huge wage and benefits advantages for public sector workers over the rest of us. It’s the elephant in the room when it comes to setting public policy across the country.”

“There aren’t the same market forces in the public sector. The government has monopoly power. Canadians in the private sector see their tax dollars paying for these wages and benefits that they can only dream of. Policy-makers need to start reining in these misaligned costs.”

The ever-rising costs of big government is a train-wreck-in-the-making that By George has been pining away on for years…. in articles tagged “big government”