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Updates from the Prairie Centre Policy Institute from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Hot off the press!
Don Baron's Jailhouse Justice and
web posted April 21, 2003
The Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper
Many believe that the single biggest obstacle to wealth creation is our negative attitude towards success. People forget that profit is the reward for hard work and risk taking. And profits create wealth, which in turn, government consume or redistribute. In the end, everyone shares in the success of an enterprise.
With that in mind, remember the classic parable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
Here is a new Canadian version making the rounds that provides some food for thought:
The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate like him are cold and starving.
The CBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper, with cuts to a video of the ant in his comfortable warm home with a table filled with food. Canadians are stunned that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.
The NDP, the CAW and the Coalition Against Poverty demonstrate in front of the ant's house. The CBC, interrupting an Inuit cultural festival special from Nunavit with breaking news, broadcasts them singing "We Shall Overcome." Svend Robinson rants in an interview with Pamela Wallin that the ant has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share."
In response to polls, the federal Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti-Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant's taxes are re-assessed and he is also fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as helpers. Without enough money to pay both the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government. The ant moves to the US, starts a successful agribiz company.
The CBC later shows the now fat grasshopper finishing up the last of the ant's food though Spring is still months away, while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he hadn't maintained it. Inadequate government funding is blamed.
Roy Romanow is appointed to head a commission of enquiry that will cost $10,000,000.
The grasshopper is soon dead of a drug overdose, the Toronto Star blames it on obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity. The abandoned house is taken over by a gang of immigrant spiders, praised by the government for enriching Canada's multicultural diversity, who promptly terrorize the community.
Do We Go From Here is a feature service of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute.
web posted April 14, 2003
A new vision for Saskatchewan
By Ken Dillen
Over the course of the past few years, it has become painfully obvious that the people of Saskatchewan face a bleak and uncertain future unless things change. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our health-care system is failing, our agriculture sector is struggling, and the demands on publicly-funded services are growing. At the same time, our population is aging, our young people and entrepreneurs are leaving, and we have the highest dependency ratio in Canada. So, who will be left to pick up the tab?
We are strapped for cash to improve health care, education and roadways, but the bureaucrats and politicians seem to have plenty of money to spend on potato sheds, bingo halls and land title systems. We watch our young people leave the province in search of opportunity, while crown corporations sink our investment capital into dubious projects around the world. And we have a justice system that prosecutes innocent people and puts farmers in jail for selling their own grain, but fails to hold public officials accountable for their actions. What kind of message does that send to the world?
Although we may blame our situation on the incompetence and, perhaps, deceitfulness of the present government, it's really not their fault. After all, the core of the problem goes back seventy years to the Regina Manifesto, which proclaimed, in part, that the CCF would eradicate capitalism and replace it with a program of socialized planning. Fourteen years later, in 1947, Tommy Douglas had a vision. In it, he saw industry going west to Alberta, service and distribution trades going east to Manitoba, and Saskatchewan remaining focused on exporting raw agricultural products. At that time, he also foresaw that our young people would leave, there would be no population growth, rural areas would be de-populated, and an aging population would place an increasing burden on government programs. And while we may not be totally rid of capitalism, Tommy's vision has certainly become a reality.
Considering the economic and demographic challenges we are facing today, is it not obvious that we need a new vision for the future - a new plan for Saskatchewan. So, where is it?
With an election looming just around the corner no one wants to talk
about our growing dependency on government, or the need to eliminate impediments
to investment and growth. Rather than putting forth new ideas, all we hear is
how one political party will be better managers than another, our central planners
will be better than yours, we will spend Ottawa's transfer
History has shown, many times over, that simply replacing the party in power does not bring about meaningful change. So, If will we choose our next government on the basis of who provides the best "feel good" message, isn't status quo what we should expect? If, on the other hand, if we demand leadership, vision and purpose, should we not expect more?
Ken Dillen sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute. "Where Do We Go From Here" is a feature service of the Prairie Centre.
web posted April 7, 2003
Dillen returns from the Land Down Under
By Ken Dillen
Leaving Saskatchewan in minus 35 degree winter conditions and arriving in Perth, Australia in plus 35 degree weather after almost twenty-four hours in the air is a special experience. The Pastoralists and Grazers Association (PGA) had invited me, as a representative of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute, to speak to their annual convention.
The PGA is a farm organization dedicated to the improvement of farmer conditions in Australia. Their members have a sincere interest in the farm economy in Saskatchewan and the Prairie Provinces.
Their annual meeting was highlighted by the many knowledgeable speakers who presented a variety of interesting subjects to some very attentive audiences. It was most interesting to see that the problems facing Australian farmers are similar to those experienced in western Canada.
For the most part, they are experiencing extreme drought conditions just like us. They have an aging farm population, the rate of return on farm investment is declining and, of course, they have the Australian Wheat Board. The AWB not receive many compliments during the convention, as the majority of farmers seem to want, and indeed demand the right to create a free market economy. Many of the more important discussions and debates centered on the farmers desire for the freedom to market their own grain if they so choose.
I was asked to speak about the farmers in Manitoba who were jailed for selling their own wheat and barley. I detailed how the farmers were taken away in leg irons, hand-cuffs and chains in order to intimidate other farmers and prevent them from exercising the rights that should be available to every business operating in a society that embraces a free market economy.
It was evident that producers in many countries do not have a full understanding of the politics of international trade as it relates to food production. This is particularly evident when it comes to cereals and oil seeds. Like Australia, the Canadian government defends its right to maintain a monopoly on western Canadian wheat and barley exports. It does so by enforcing laws that can result in criminal prosecution and, perhaps jail terms for attempting to sell products of their own labor.
The Australians were intrigued by the fact that in order to export their product western farmers are compelled to "buy back" their own wheat from the Canadian Wheat Board - which never actually bought in the first place. They could not believe that farmers in Ontario and Quebec, on the other hand, can sell in the USA without having to do this.
Closer to home, it is encouraging to learn that the Alberta government is implementing a policy of choice for their provincial farmers. "Alberta producers feeling shackled by the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly over grain sales should be allowed to opt out as part of a 10-year pilot project" says Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan. She continued by saying "I have a hard time understanding what's wrong with freedom and choice" Alberta will have very strong support from farmers in western Canada for the position they are taking.
The hospitality enjoyed in Australia will be cherished forever.
sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute.
The CFEN and CFFJ need your help! The battle against the Canada Wheat Board can only continue with your support.
Write the following and demand free market rights for Western Canadian farmers!
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