One of the hardest things to do in politics is whip up public interest in the National Debt.
I know, I've tried.
The problem is that although our crushing national debt is a serious fiscal problem, it's also a largely abstract problem.
You can't see the National Debt; it's negative impact on the economy isn't readily apparent; and as far as public policy issues go, unless you're an economist, the debt just isn't all that sexy.
Plus politicians usually have a short-term incentive to fatten the national debt with deficit spending.
After all, it's easier to brag about "stimulus" spending than it is to reduce the deficit.
That's why I am glad to see the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is making an effort to visualize the problem for Canadians with its "National Debt Clock."
Check it out and watch the debt numbers on the chronometer whiz by at warp speed.
It's depressing but it also brings home the message in a powerful way that government spending is out of control.
That's a warning Canadians need to hear loud and clear.
So help the CTF get out the word.
Pass Debt Clock along to your friends and donate a few dollars to the CTF.
Let's put the Debt Clock numbers in reverse.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
CTF Debt Clock
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I live in Ontario, so the debt/person is actually double the national average. But then again, I can also move to another jurisdiction like Alberta.
I think the CTF should include provincial and municipal debt onto that clock. Most Canadians think, oh, our national debt isn't too bad but with the other levels of governments, it's actually horrendous.
Several years ago some paper published the financial stms and balance sheet of Canada. It was very interesting to see what our debt was and who we owed the money to. It was interesting to see pymts on debts of long ago, for deals made with pymt due 50 yrs into the future. Also fun to learn that a lot of that debt is owed to Canadians, via Savings Bonds, pensions, etc.
And it includes all the surpluses and deficits from the date of incorporation. Wasn't to scary at all when looked at that way.
I wonder if cdns holding CSBs realize that they are part of the debt.
Glad to see you are finally posted interesting articles instead of shameless self promotion.
The national debt at the federal level isn't the most pressing issue relative to what other countries are facing and we're not in as dire of a situation as a whole but rather in parts.
Just as RedEnsign said. His comment hits the nail on its head.
The CTF should be more focused on targeting its message were it more rightly belongs.
If they try to push too hard on this at the federal level as if to blame the current federal government for the debt, then they are loosing the war against it everywhere else. Where it counts.
Too much lime-light is always given to federal politics where as the provinces & large cities play a more serious role.
We need debt reduction across the board.
Our federal interest rate on the debt is not so out of control that the federal government needs to resort to extreme measures. Especially relative to the U.S. which does.
It's more important that we maintain political stability and slowly but surely lower the debt, taxes, regulatory redundancies etc, in a permanent fashion than not at all.
If the Conservatives had a majority you could expect faster results; but to push too hard or not hard enough could only make things more difficult to pursue more concrete libertarian policies.
It wouldn't do as much good to dig their heels in the sand and force an election until the time is ripe or necessary. I think businesses have seen enough "change" to prefer some mild predictability over brash or overzealous debt reduction.
It's obviously in their interest to do so long term, but to do it in a attempt to appease the immediate wishes of a few impatient libertarian ideologues (while they spew their talking points in a populist fashion, No less!*) will not necessarily have intended affect that they so wish for.
In the next election you can be rest assured that they will likely become more bold in their platforms so as to include some well needed cuts to both taxes and in particular spending. They've had to wait for voters to gravitate more to the right & down of the political spectrum so as to gain a specific mandate to do such things.
The more they deliberate the deeper the cuts, but its important that it is also done in a pragmatic & permanent fashion so as to not be so easily undone again.
This is why I rag on you. You don't seem to see the bigger picture beyond your own stand point.
In that sense I see you as an "libertarian" grouch as you get too flustered that your wants aren't met fast enough, that you forego the much needed brick work to grant you the foundations that get you there.
*There is enough group-think populist rhetoric & brouhaha over debt as it is. When you dumb down the discussion to appeal to the highest amount of people in the shortest amount of time, you also attract over-passionate loud dumb people.
Doesn't help your cause but rather hinders it.
I posted this on Red Ensign blog showing Canada v the rest of the world.
And with bond interest rates trending strongly up, this will have to change. Short term economic pain, long-term liberty gain. Will be interesting and sad to watch Harper try to worm his way out of a real decision.
What I mean is, you can't pin all that debt on the CPC which hasen't been around long and on the same note has been stuck in minority with a pile of tax&spend loving socialist parties. With the liberals as far to the left as they've ever been. Not much political capital can be spent on cuts when your opposition is made up in this way. Minority Governments are fairly renown for being expensive for tax payers because of this.
They also had to make up for a lot of things that didn't get done under the liberals. Our infrastructure is still rough shape in some areas.
The stimulus spending should of shaken off any of the old arguments that conservatives are "cold hearted cutters".
Look at what the MSM in the states is doing to the new congress in the U.S.
Fortunately the CPC is positioned to avoid much of that.
The CPC "debt clock" or their own personal addition to is minor to that of McGuinty's Liberal Party of Ontario.
Ontario used to be over 40% of Canada's economy...
All the while having two majorities.
Oh, and that debt clock at the economist website is wrong. U.S. is 14.6 trillion in debt if I'm not mistaken.
Tim Geithner "unworkable" wasn't very helpful.
You can't always go by the budget books when they cook'em!
"Fortunately the CPC is positioned to avoid much of that"
Too bad the rest of us are positioned on all fours because the CPC is too cowardly and strategically incompetent. Thanks for ruining Canada's Right.
At Anon @ 3:24 am.
They've been on shaky & uncertain ground in these minorities until the last 12 months or so.
They've had to draw the population away from the left by first moving closer to the mushy centre and even then they been met with every sort mud slinging from the opposition parties & MSM along the way.
The time is nearing where they will have to switch gears. That time is coming up slower then us partisans may like but that isn't to say it wont come at all. You draw your sword too soon and you may as well fall on it if your not prepared to handle the consequences.
If an election were to come they would certainly make a clear break and we won't be seeing the politically safer incremental policy planks as in the last election.
For this reason I would like an election as I don't yet trust the NDP to move from the far left to center left and dismount the Libs entirely from lead opposition. I suspect even if we accept their fairly reasonable demands to support the budget that they will only continue to behave as they have; & in the process, attempt to anker the CPC where they are. Which won't work in their favour.
The CPC would have to win ridings gradually until they have enough seats to free them from the toils of minority governing. A realistic eventuality. If there were indeed to be no election.
Though I admit I have no clue as to how many ridings would be available in that time frame to make the difference...
We'll get our President Coolidge eventually, but the mandate from the people has to be solidly established first.
"They've had to draw the population away from the left by first moving closer to the mushy centre"
"The time is nearing where they will have to switch gears."
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