There’s something a bit surreal about the news this week.
Well, not really the news itself, so much as the way people are reacting to it.
The drop in oil prices and the forecast decline of jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador are not anything people haven;t heard before.
And yet people seem genuinely shocked.
Let’s understand, there is absolutely nothing – not a single thing – about any of this information that didn’t come with plenty of warning.
Even Wade Locke, the guy who spent the last six years pretending that shale gas was just some kind of mass delusion, actually understood that it existed. He was aware of the assessments of people around the world that an abundant supply of low-cost fuel would change energy prices.
Wade just chose not to believe what was painfully obvious to anyone who hadn’t already bet the analytical farm on the ahistorical – read: idiotic - proposition that oil prices only went up. But that was the essence of Wade’s advice to the provincial government. They made bad decisions based on that sort of whack-a-doodle assessment and, the rest is history.
Now Wade is blaming China for the mess.
But really, China didn’t cause the financial mess in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Wrong decisions did.
The day after the Wade story, we hear that the latest forecast is that the provincial economy will shed 24,000 jobs over the next couple of years as resource megaprojects wind down.
Again, people apparently slept through the bit back in say 2005 when people warned that these energy megaprojects produced lots of jobs for a short period. One the dam was built or they floated out the big concrete gravity base for Hebron or the smelter refinery complex was finished, all the people with hammers and welders and such would have to go find a job somewhere else.
In a place like Alberta or Saskatchewan where there are plenty of projects on the go, people can shift to the next one.
But here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we had a very small series of projects. One of them – Muskrat Falls – actually superheated the economy and caused all sorts of havoc in the marketplace that adversely affected everyone else.
That last one is an especially good example of the wrong-headed policies that the provincial government has followed. It’s all public money and the thing is maybe a year and a half behind schedule at least. What’s worse, we could have supplied electricity more cheaply just about any other way than Muskrat Falls.
Oh yeah, and the people of the province are the ones who have to pay for it. All of it.
There’ll be 24,000 fewer people, as it now turns out. All those folks who have been here for the construction jobs will have to go somewhere else to find work, leaving the rest of us to pay the bills.
None of this is actually news.
What goes up must come down no matter how often people like Wade, or Danny, or Kathy, or Tom or now Paul try to pretend otherwise.
People are wondering what we should do.
Let’s do what the Americans did in the 1930s.
Let’s make a giant statue like Mount Rushmore.
Rather than carve the heads of four great presidents, let’s carve likenesses of Danny, Kathy, Wade Locke, Ed Martin, and Gil Bennett. The people responsible for such a mess deserve to have a monument that is so big that you can see it from outer space.
The job losses. The economic down turn.
Just as easy to see from a long way away as Mount Stunnedmore would be.
You’d have to be blind not to see it coming.