08 May 2012

The politics of logic and history #nlpoli

“Government does not work on logic,” a wise man once told your humble e-scribbler.  “It works on the basis of history.”

When faced with a new problem, people tend to do what they did before, not what might make sense in the new circumstances.

You can see that the preference for history over logic in Kathy Dunderdale’s comments on Monday about what she and her colleagues would do for communities where the town fish plant had closed.

Mr. Speaker, we are doing the same thing for these workers, and will do for others the same thing we did in Stephenville, Grand Falls-Windsor, and Harbour Breton.

That would include moving in some provincial government jobs to stuff some cash into the local economy.  So if adding more provincial government employees is an integral part of Kathy Dunderdale’s response to the problems in these six communities, you can be damn sure she won’t be chopping any jobs.

Then again, regular readers of these scribbles already knew that claims to the contrary were bullshit.

The rest of Dunderdale’s comment are just routine political drivel:

We are committed to communities in this Province that find themselves in economic distress. We do not always have the answers at hand. There are not easy answers to be found by anybody, but we walk the walk with communities, Mr. Speaker. We do not just talk the talk.

And when she was done with drivel, she just popped out some truly vacuous bullshit:

Wherever the journey takes these people, their government will be there with them, and we do our best to diversify the economy and meet their needs in the meantime.

Diversify the economy.


Well, the economic development record of the current crowd is exactly zilch.  They spent so much time obsessing over polls and the Lower Churchill after 2003 that they simply didn’t do anything to diversify the economy.  And what they did try – giving away public cash by the bag-full – simply didn’t work. They haven’t been able to pay people to create jobs here.

Here’s how SRBP put it a couple of years ago comparing government spending in the mid-1990s with the current practice:

The province’s business development and economic diversification efforts – ITT then and INTRD and Business today – take less of a share of the budget now.  That’s despite government claims that it has a plan to expand the economy and that the plan is in place.

Mind you, the amounts spent have increased.  For example, the cost of operating the departments has gone from about $50 million for the Industry, Trade and technology department to about $66 million spread over Business and Innovation, Trade and Rural Development today.

The amount available for business investment is also up:  $18 million then compared to $29 million. Even then, though, the province’s business department -  the vehicle through which Danny Williams was once supposed to personally reinvigorate the provincial economy – actually doesn’t do very much with the cash in the budget.  Sure there are plenty of free gifts – like Rolls Royce – or the apparently endless supply of cash for inflatable shelters.

But as the Telegram discovered two years ago, the provincial government spent nothing at all of the $30 million budgeted for business development in 2007. And earlier this year the Telegram confirmed that in the past three years, less than one third of the $90 budgeted for business attraction was ever spent.

The result is that we have a very fragile economy.

Government does not work on the basis of logic.  They go with what they did before.

Like that has worked so well  for them so far.