On the plus side, ya gotta admit Premier Danny Williams can crack you up. The Danald’s declaration this week that the province’s doctors should tone down their rhetoric must have had the citizenry laughing from Pouch Cove to Port aux Basques.
After all, the premier’s rhetorical tongue-lashings against opponents are legion and legendary. This is a guy who once lambasted a mere
letter writer as a traitor — a serious offence that in less-enlightened times and jurisdictions could have firing-squad repercussions.
So when Williams says somebody else’s rhetoric is “getting out of hand,” you don’t need to wait for a punch line. It’s funny without one. It must be that famous Newfoundland (but not Labrador) humour.
Turn on the radio and you can hear Irish rockers U2 — a band outspoken in its support for impoverished and oppressed people — singing about Newfoundland (and Labrador) politics: “I can’t believe the news today. …”
Recent headlines just don’t add up. There is an inherent inconsistency. On the one hand, the provincial government says the public coffers are not deep enough to meet doctors’ salary demands.
On the other hand, the good economic news just keeps coming, even if it hasn’t yet translated into a BMW in every driveway.
Take, for instance, this headline from Thursday’s business pages: “Province near top of pack in GDP growth: report.”
According to Scotia Economics, the province’s gross domestic product — the total dollar value of its goods, services and rhetoric — will increase 3.1 per cent this year and another 3.1 per cent in 2011.
In contrast, national GDP growth will be a mere 2.3 per cent. In Ontario, the formerly richest Canadians will make do with two per cent. Quebec will lag behind at 1.9 per cent. (Note to premier: add rhetorical cheap shot here.)
China may put the boots to freedom, democracy and its own Nobel Peace Prize winners, but Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) can thank it for their rising fortunes. China may not be open for personal liberty, but it is open for business. Chinese demand for oil, gas, iron ore and nickel is driving prices up. Economies on natural resources are reaping the benefits.
That includes Newfoundland (and Labrador).
Unless Williams and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy have managed to revise the basic laws of
economics, a higher GDP must inevitably lead to higher income for the government — unless, as in the U.S., rich leaders decide to cut taxes for their rich brethren.
The provincial government’s disingenuousness extends beyond Williams’ laughable accusation of unhealthy rhetoric by doctors.
A few nasty and unfortunate strikes/lockouts notwithstanding, the province is generally being pummelled with good economic news that makes a mockery of Williams and Kennedy’s claim the government cannot afford to pay medical specialists as much as they demand.
The government’s position lacks foresight. If doctors in the province feel they are underpaid, there isn’t any reason to believe that when they resign, other doctors from elsewhere will eagerly line up to apply for the vacant jobs.
The government’s approach is illogical. It’s like cutting off your fingers because you don’t want to pay the manicurist. It’s like slashing your car tires because you don’t want to pay the mechanic.
It’s like turfing out a batch of manipulative politicians because you’re fed up with paying their inflated salaries. Wait a minute. …
Williams and Kennedy may think they’re making a principled stand in defence of good management of the public purse. But they are in error, and it is the public — and patients — who will pay the price.
This just in (as I write): Williams announces deal to develop Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.
I rest my case.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.