11 December 2015

The Tory-gram Returns #nlpoli

And there it was.

Top of the front page. 

Screaming headline.

Economist warns Liberal plan doesn’t make sense.

Right underneath a picture of the new Liberal Premier-in-waiting and the new Prime Minister smiling as they met in Ottawa.  Title: Happy Liberals.

About as objective as Fox News and then you read the story.

Their economist shitting on the Liberals is….

wait for it…

Wade Locke.

Hands up who didn’t just piss themselves laughing?

Wade Locke.

Darling of the provincial Tories,  the guy who helped create the current financial mess the government is facing.  The guy who said Hibernia was going to be a disaster because we would lose all those lovely hand outs from Ottawa.  The guy who said Stephen Harper broke his promise on Equalization in 2007 despite the fact the promise was right there, in spades, delivered for anyone who wanted to read.

The guy who loved Muskrat Falls based on what he later admitted was a based assessment.

There was Wade in all his Tory Glory shitting on the Liberal idea that we need to diversify the economy.

“If you really believe you’re going to diversify the economy away from oil, then I don’t think you’ve really understood the structure of the economy,” Locke told the Tory-gram’s James McLeod.  “When you have 28-30 per cent of your economy tied to oil, the chance of moving away from that is slim to none.”

Interesting idea.

Wait a second.

What are all those shimmering lines and harp runs?

Oh crap.

Time warp.

We stop in the year 2012.

There’s Kathy Dunderdale in the House of Assembly telling us that 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.”

Quick shimmer.


The head of the Atlantic Provinces’ Economic Council reminding that the current administration – that would be Wade’s pals – “would argue they’re already doing that. In other words, they’re spending at the current time to diversify the economy and to strengthen the economy over the long run.”

Harps and shimmering again.


Shawn Skinner and – hullo, hullo – Old Twitchy Shoulder Hisself announcing a new research and development corporation funded by public cash that would help diversify the economy.

The Word of Our Dan, that.

Must be true.


More harp music and shimmering lights.


Kathy and Danny announcing diversification.

and then a quick temporal slide to …

Tory Election Platform, 2003.

More diversifying of the economy said to be good,  said to be possible.

And somewhere there is a quote from Wade Locke saying glorious things about the Tory plan back in 2003.

Round about now you must be thinking this was a case of McLeod showing Wade the Tory ideas and telling him they were Liberal ones.  You know, like some folks have been showing quotes from the Bible to unsuspecting Donald Trump worshippers but telling them they were from the Quran.

Sadly, no. 

That was Wade’s own foot shoved down his own throat without any help.

Right Answer.  Wrong Question.

Diversification turned up on the lips of every politician in the province from all three parties around the time that the stupidity of the Conservatives’ spending plans turned out to be Season 5 walking-dead-zombie stench kinda obvious.

We need to diversify the economy, they said.  Kathy.  Dwight.  Didn’t matter.  On that day back in May 2012, linked above, Kathy and Dwight said precisely the same thing.

And earlier this year both the Liberals and the New Democrats said we need to diversify the economy in Labrador.

Reduce our dependence on oil and minerals.

Well, no.

Diversification was the answer to an economy that was dependent on one main commodity, namely fish. Every time the fish markets collapsed,  everyone in the country starved or went on the government dole.

So in the 1880s the government of the tiny country started to diversify the economy.  By the 1980s,  we had a fairly diverse economy but it was primarily still focused on resource extraction.  These days, and even allowing for the decline in forestry,  the economy is as diverse as it has ever been.  The ups and downs in the size of the economy have been caused mainly by changes in the price of oil,  But the other sectors of the economy have generally been doing quite well.

What the politicians and McLeod’s three wise men were talking about is diversification of the economy to solve the problem of massive government deficits.

Not the same thing at all.

Massive government deficits have been caused by the simple fact that the current provincial government, by and with the advice of Wade Locke, has chronically spent way more than it brought in or could afford to spend.  Their focus has been on the government income and so they have turned to Wade and other people playing at being psychic to tell them what oil prices will be a decade hence.

Remember Wade’s “Prosperity Plan”?  Yeah, well that was the advice to keep spending because oil will come back.  We might have some deficits but on the whole, everything would balance out.

Then the arse really fell out of oil prices and Wade, God love ‘en,  blurted out that he hadn’t seen that coming.


The problem in all that is not that Wade Locke can’t tell the future.  After all, no one can. 

The problem is that Wade,  the other two economists in McLeod’s story,  all the politicians and just about everyone punditising anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador these days has been obsessed with only one side of a two-sided equation.   Government’s problem, supposedly, is an insufficiency of income, not an excess of outflow.

Back in the years before government had any serious cash,  they used to watch the money coming in and they’d also watch the money going out. That’s why the provincial government has always run deficits but the gap between their income and spending has never been as bad as it has been lately. 

The Tories, you see, decided that the only thing to do was spend. So they did.  They spent all the money we had and when they hit the bottom of the tank, they borrowed more and have set us on a course to borrow even more.  The Conservatives since 2003 have racked up more public debt than every administration back to 1934 and, if truth be told back to 1832, combined.

This year – if everything goes as it seems to be going – we will borrow as much money in order to pay our bills than we will get from oil, personal income tax, and and corporate taxes combined.  Almost half the annual spending will be supplied by the banks this year.

Locke, and the rest of them focus on the side of the equation – income – that they can neither predict nor really control. They pretty ignore spending, which is the one thing they really can control. The closest they come in this Telly piece is Doug May telling people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to “take a hard look at the quality of government service they’re getting, and how much it costs to deliver.”

Baymen should expect shitter health care, roads, and education.

That’s the best they’ve got?

No wonder the province is in hard shape.