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Updates from the Prairie Centre Policy Institute from Regina, Saskatchewan.
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web posted June 23, 2003
Zwangswirtschaft policies in Western Canada
By Ken Dillen
For many years the policies of the Canadian Wheat Board have been compared to the communist policies of the old Soviet Union. No one thought to examine the economic policies of Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany.
In a commentary posted on the Le Quebecois Libre web site, Harry Valentine asserts that the law under which prairie farmers were jailed for having exported wheat without a licence is more consistent with the Zwangswirtschaft system that was the cornerstone of the Nazi's economic regulation (Zwang means compulsion while Wirtsschaft means economy).
Mr. Valentine quotes economist Ludwig von Mises, who describes this system in his treatise entitled Socialism. "Under the Nazi system of zwangswirtschaft, private ownership is maintained over the means of production, but the government tells the entrepreneurs at what price and to whom to sell." The Nazi slogan for this economic philosophy was Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz, or the commonwealth ranks above profit. "This certainly is consistent with the philosophy by which Western Canadian wheat farmers are regulated by the Canadian government", adds Valentine.
In Canada, prairie farmers are forced, by law, to market their wheat and barley through the Canadian Wheat Board. Eastern wheat growers, it seems, are not. It apparently doesn't matter that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says all citizens are equal before and under the law.
On the subject of interventionist public policy, Mr. Valentine writes: "Despite a plethora of proof illustrating the consistent and long-term failure of state economic regulation and control, the national government continues to stand ready to use coercion and forcible compulsion against the productive activities of peaceful citizens, as the means by which to enforce such regulation and control. Canada's government need look no further than the decimation of the East Coast cod fish industry, to see proof that state enforced economic regulation and control can and does fail. Despite having had a large bureaucracy backed by an extensive staff of politically favoured experts to guide governmental action in the fisheries industry, a mega-debacle still occurred.
Recently, a trial balloon was floated from Ottawa suggesting that farmers may be allowed some limited freedom to sell their wheat directly to customers. Such a plan may ultimately resemble Ontario's recent electric power deregulation farce and its subsequent failure. In this debacle, a few minor cosmetic changes were made to the existing regulatory regime and the farce renamed "deregulation." Except that private producers could not operate under such a regime. A regime of limited freedom to privately sell wheat indicates the agriculture department's loyalty and commitment to Zwangswirtschaft and its refusal to abandon such a regime. Such behaviour from Ottawa adds credence to the western independence movement and what they stand for. Ottawa's own behaviour gives western Canadians little choice other than secession to achieve economic freedom."
"Federal regulatory behaviour in Western Canada Agriculture (CWB) and the environment (the Kyoto Accord) ultimately justifies and adds legitimacy to the cause of Western Independence", he concludes.
It is interesting how we in western Canada are perceived by some people in the eastern part of the country. Too bad it doesn't rub off on the mandarins in Ottawa who are responsible for public policy.
Harry Valentine is a free marketer living in eastern Ontario. His commentary can be found on the Le Quebecois Libre web site at www.quebecoislibre.org. He has given permission for the Prairie Centre to use his material to inform our membership of how excess state control affects the prairie region.
web posted June 9, 2003
Saskatchewan's future: Agriculture or energy?
By Ken Dillen
For many years Saskatchewan has been referred to as "the gap" - the space between Manitoba and Alberta. This misconception is perpetuated by the flat open spaces bordering our major highways. This makes it difficult to visualize Saskatchewan as a world leader in the production of mineral commodities. In addition to potash and uranium, gold, copper, coal, salt, and about a dozen other minerals are found in the province
The Saskatchewan Mining Association recently held its annual convention in Saskatoon and its major theme was the economic impact and significance of the mining industry in the province. Did you know, for example, that mining constitutes about fifteen percent to the total provincial economy, but utilizes only 0.1% of the available land area? (That represents a space about the size of the city of Saskatoon.) And, did you know that Canada is number one in the world in the production of only two mineral commodities - uranium and potash - both from Saskatchewan. With the recent promising exploration results, we could soon see a few diamond mines here as well.
One very important presentation was on uranium. It may come as a surprise to many that 16% percent of the world's electricity is produced from uranium, one-third of which comes from Saskatchewan. In many countries around the world nuclear energy is considered to be a safe and environmentally friendly source of power. France, it was revealed, produces about 80% of its electrical needs from nuclear power. In the United States, about one hundred nuclear reactors currently produce 20% of the countries electricity. Today, one in ten U.S. homes is powered by uranium purchased from Cameco, a Saskatchewan-based company. Obviously, many people live adjacent to nuclear facilities without concern for their safety.
While Saskatchewan contributes significantly to the generation of electricity around the world, we fail to produce a single kilowatt of electrical power from our own natural resource. Does this not seem a little unusual given that we live next door to the world's biggest energy consumer, and a major world energy shortage looms ahead?
It has been reported that the U.S. will need to double its sources of energy supplies in the next twenty years. Nuclear generated electricity is the fastest growing source of electrical production in the U.S. - without a single new power plant being constructed (this has all been achieved through upgrades and operating efficiencies).
This should give rise to private sector investment in building a few reactors in this province. In addition to providing power for export, nuclear energy will also help us to meet our own demand for a clean source of electricity. Remember the Kyoto Accord?
In addition, should we not be considering the wealth creation potential of the other elements in the nuclear fuel cycle. Take returning the spent fuel to safe underground storage in a remote area, for example. Is that not where it originated in the first place?
While no politician from any party is anxious to acknowledge that this province has a 15 billion dollar debt, billions more in unfunded pension liabilities, and pays 760 million dollars annually in interest, this fact can no longer be ignored. It has been suggested that the construction of a nuclear power generation plant and a facility for the underground storage of spent fuel would eliminate the provincial debt in less than ten years. We have the technology. We have the workforce. We may need the capital, but that will come. There is no doubt that nuclear energy has tremendous potential for economic growth and wealth creation, but we must move quickly to make it happen. It's time to open the public debate.
There is more to come.
Ken Dillen sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute.
web posted June 2, 2003
Foundations for wealth creation: Trade integration in the global economy
By Dr. Graham Parsons
The following commentary is the fifth in a continuing series excerpted from a report published by the Prairie Centre Policy Institute, entitled, "This Year Country: Creating Wealth in Saskatchewan". Written by Dr. Graham Parsons, former Chief Economist for Western Canada with the Canada West Foundation, the report examines the potential for economic growth in Saskatchewan.
Trade integration is a central factor in effective wealth creation. The theoretical benefits of trade have been seen throughout the world in increased incomes, investment and employment under such liberalizing arrangements as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The benefits for wealth creation from liberalized trade also exist within Canada.
In July, 1994, Saskatchewan signed the federal-provincial Agreement on Internal Trade. Its purpose was to: "promote an open, efficient, and stable domestic market for long-term job creation, economic growth and stability". To reach this goal Saskatchewan agreed to: "Reduce and eliminate, to the extent possible, barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada." Saskatchewan therefore committed to a more open trading environment with the rest of Canada.
The trade practice revealed in the details of the Agreement with Saskatchewan was quite different. Most government procurement was excluded from the terms of the agreement. The province had negotiated exclusions for some of the largest sectors of the provincial economy - the Crown Corporations. This was in contrast to its neighbouring Prairie provinces who chose to fully participate in the agreement.
Prairie Province Procurement Exclusions from the Agreement on Internal Trade, 2001.
Saskatchewan: Treasury Board Crowns:
Agricultural Credit Corporation
Agricultural Development Fund Corporation
Energy Conservation and Development Authority
Municipal Financing Corporation
New Careers Corporation
Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute
Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN)
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation
Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation
Saskatchewan Government Printing Corporation
Saskatchewan Municipal Board
Saskatchewan Research Council
Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation
Crown Investments Corporation (CIC)
Saskatchewan Government Growth Fund Management Corporation
Saskatchewan Economic Development Corporation
Saskatchewan Forest Products Corporation
Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI)
Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation
Saskatchewan Power Corporation
Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC)
Saskatchewan Water Corporation
Other Boards, Agencies & Commissions:
Board of Internal Economy
Liquor Board Superannuation Commission
Liquor and Gaming Licensing Commission
Saskatchewan Arts Board
Saskatchewan Pension Plan
SPC Superannuation Board
Western Development Museum Board
Workers' Compensation Board (Saskatchewan)
Workers' Compensation Superannuation Board
For Saskatchewan today, the institutional framework for domestic Canadian trade is more restrictive than under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
This institutional arrangement in Saskatchewan allowed the government and Crown sectors to opt out of the provisions of the agreement. In doing so the province had effectively sent clear signals that it did not intend to provide the framework for an open trading environment, even within its own country and for its own directly controlled part of the provincial economy.
The full set of benefits that could have been available to Saskatchewan industry in terms of increased efficiency, and to consumers in terms of lower prices and higher quality, would not be forthcoming for the Saskatchewan economy or for the cost of government.
The exclusions from a competitive trading environment, in which competition and efficiency might be allowed to develop and bring along both investment and job creation, could also be seen in the telephone industry and the protection of SaskTel. With the deregulation of long distance phoning in Canada in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the prospect of competition for SaskTel emerged.
However, through a series of special submissions to the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Saskatchewan was able to obtain deferrals from abiding by the more competitive national framework for telephones. Eventually, competition arrived in Saskatchewan and long distance phone rates dropped by nearly one third.
Dr. Parsons sits on the Prairie Centre Policy Institute's Board of Academic
Advisors. His report can be found on the Institute's website at www.prairiecentre.com.
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