Since at least the 1930s, we in the west have demanded and received (so we perceive) ever greater benefits and subsidies from our governments.
Simultaneously, we have acceded to ever more and higher taxes, public indebtedness that would make the fathers of Confederation laugh out loud in disbelief, and the outright creation of money from thin air, with nothing to back it up.
We hear everywhere now of the fiscal cliff facing the U.S., caused by the factors listed above, a point of no return that can only be averted, some say, by raising taxes and increasing so-called stimulus spending by government.
If that sounds to you like dousing a campfire with kerosene, you’re quite right.
But if you think it is only the States that stands on the edge of this cliff, you are mistaken.
If anything, they are one of the least serious offenders. Social democracies like the U.K., France, Belgium, and yes, Canada, are in even worse shape.
We are all staring into the abyss, and serious reform is needed now.
The public sector, as it now stands, is unsustainable.
Change will come, like it or not. Our only choice is whether we realize the need and make the reforms in an orderly fashion, or simply cobble together the scraps and pieces left after a collapse.
The responsibility of federal governments will primarily be monetary. They must stabilize the money supply, let interest rates find their natural levels, and begin the move toward asset-backed hard currency.
This will automatically enforce fiscal discipline on all three levels of government, as they will no longer be able to rely on the printing presses to finance their vanity projects.
This will require the reform of the public sector, and the sooner the better to avoid undue disruption of people’s lives.
Some of the essentials for provincial reform follow.
Every department of government must be required to at least break even on an annual basis; no more rewards for going over budget.
Social programs need a major review, to ensure that they provide a need rather than the desire of a given lobby group; they must also be structured so that they do not permit a lifestyle of dependance for the able-bodied.
The size and remuneration of the civil service must be brought to sustainable, affordable levels.
Crown corporations must be reminded that they are, in fact, extensions of the civil service, not Fortune 500 companies, and therefore do not need high six and seven-figure salaries to attract talent.
Corporate welfare, including the funding of myriad non-governmental organizations, must be eliminated.
Debt must be taken on solely for the financing of the infrastructure upgrades (ie. freeways) we so desperately need.
And taxes and regulation must be reduced as much as possible, to create an environment wherein all (legal) enterprises of whatever type or size have an equal chance of succeeding on their own merits.
If we institute these and other reforms soon, we can avert fiscal meltdown and preserve the essential services and order to which we have become accustomed.
If we do not, we can watch our own future being played out in the streets of Athens and in the dozens of major U.S. cities that are laying off their police forces and firefighters before declaring bankruptcy. You get the idea.
Intentional, measured reform would be better.