Short Europe, Buy Canada??
Consider some contrasts with the United States, as reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. With high unemployment benefits, almost half of Western Europe's jobless have been out of work a year or more; the U.S. figure is about 12 percent. Or take early retirement. In 2003 about 60 percent of Americans ages 55 to 64 had jobs. The comparable figures for France, Italy and Germany were 37 percent, 30 percent and 39 percent. The truth is that Europeans like early retirement, high jobless benefits and long vacations.One of the issues which the CPC should be making more of but isn't is the question of which model, Euro or American, Canada should be looking at.
The trouble is that so much benevolence requires a strong economy, while the sources of all this benevolence -- high taxes, stiff regulations -- weaken the economy. With aging populations, the contradictions will only thicken. Indeed, some scholarly research suggests that high old-age benefits partly explain low birthrates. With the state paying for old age, who needs children as caregivers? High taxes may also deter young couples from assuming the added costs of children.
robert samuelson, wapo
We have an aging population, social benefits which are generous in comparison to the US, miserly compared to France, a declining birth rate. So the question is whether or not we want to make the structural changes which will allow us to retain at least some of our social programs while increasing our competitiveness or if we are more interested in hanging on to a radically statist, interventionalist, European outlook and policy.
It is pretty clear that Quebec's politcal class is opting for the happy contradictions of the "social market" (its burgeoning business and entrepreneureal class may have other ideas.) But what about the ROC?
Can Harper be convinced that actually telling the Maritimes that the pogey is going to stop and the regional development is going to end and that when you have the money to be disqualified for equalization you are, er, disqualified?
Can the CPC bring itself to say that it would be a really good idea for Canadians to try to have three or more children - (yikes, an actual pro-family as opposed to anti-gay message, oh what will the feminists say?). Can it grit its teeth and promise to cut taxes for families and make the cuts in government spending which will be occassioned by those cuts?
Only if the CPC and Harper are willing to lose with style. Lose so that, next election, the CPC has reinvented itself as a party committed to individual rights, decentralization, real families and a real, growing economy.