21 December 2006

Retilling the much ploughed patch

From the Financial Post, this article on the movement of aluminum production to the Middle East and Asia.

The big attraction is low-cost power and the giant manufacturing markets that need aluminum. In the past decade, China's share of world aluminum production has gone from 9% to 25%. Canada's share has declined by a couple of percentage points; ditto Europe (including Iceland). The American share has dropped as dramatically as China's has risen.

This seems like an opportune time to quote an observation by the late Don Jamieson, left, once deputy prime minister, minister of external affairs and at one time minister of regional economic expansion in the Government of Canada.

He once observed a common trait - a faulty perception really - among so many in Canada. The following excerpt is from his memoir, No place for fools: the political memoirs of Don Jamieson, volume 1, (St. John's: Breakwater, 1989), p. 158:

He [Joe Smallwood] was the victim as well of a delusion I have observed frequently among leaders at many levels. He thought that the area where he held sway was larger and more important than it actually was. Newfoundland was Smallwood's life, his universe and he developed exaggerated, unrealistic expectations for it. If other provinces and regions could have steel mills and similar heavy industries, so could Newfoundland. Likewise for secondary manufacturing and resource upgrading. Smallwood saw himself breaking new ground with this approach; in fact, he was retilling a much ploughed patch and, subconsciously, seeking to outperform previous Newfoundland leaders.
These days some use this sort of delusion to drive an entire blog-worth of posts or calls to talk shows in which, inevitably, Confederation would be blamed for the economic rise of China or for the misfortune of Newfoundland not being adjacent to the Asian giant.

Another kindred spirit runs the province on much the same delusion as some of his predecessors. No wonder the blogger is so critical of the other; they are fighting for same shop-worn turf.

(h/t to Offal News' Simon Lono for recalling Jamieson's wisdom)