Being clear

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Today, the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council will hear a keynote address from Jason Clemens, the executive vice-president of the Fraser Institute, which identifies itself as one of this country’s leading public policy think-tanks.

It’s a good thing to have as many voices as possible in the mix. 

Clemens is set to talk about this province’s place in global competitiveness, along with outlining how “rules and incentives matter” to long-term prosperity and business investment in this province.

Think-tanks have come a long way in this country: the Fraser Institute has been around since 1974, a registered charity devoted to economic study, but one with a pretty clear mandate.

Perhaps its donation page could be helpful in explaining its aims: “Thank you for helping the Fraser Institute in the pursuit of free choice, competitive markets and less government regulation. Please fill out the fields below to donate to the The Fraser Institute. … Income tax receipts for donations of $10 or more will be issued in accordance with Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) regulations for the eligible portion of your donation.”

It might also be worth noting that the Fraser Institute issued tax receipts worth $3.3 million for donations in 2012.

Why is that in any way important?

Because the institute is interested in topics like compassion and poverty.

This morning, the Fraser Institute was scheduled to release its latest research paper, this time arguing that emotion has no place in discussions of poverty.

“‘The measurement of poverty cannot be an exercise in compassion. In counting the number of poor people, we should set aside how we feel about poverty and what we think should be done about it. If poverty is a condition of serious deprivation, then we should find a way to objectively determine the number of people who are, in fact, likely to be deprived in that way,’ says Christopher Sarlo, professor of economics at Nipissing University, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of ‘Poverty: Where do we Draw the Line?’”

And where is that line going to fall?

That’s also an interesting question — but for God’s sake, let’s not get bogged down with feelings for those suffering in poverty when an empirical benchmark would be far more useful.

Perhaps we should develop that same sort of benchmark test to redefine the agencies that can benefit from claiming charitable status, diverting money from where it can truly help people.

All that aside, Mr. Clemens’ keynote speech will no doubt be an interesting take on where this province is, and where we should be going. It will no doubt be persuasive, well thought out and detailed.

 The only thing to be careful to keep in mind is that it is just one viewpoint in a vast spectrum of views, and should be heard with that in mind.

Organizations: Fraser Institute, Canadian Revenue Agency, Nipissing University

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Recent comments

  • Chantal
    November 14, 2013 - 13:05

    What to do about poverty? Count 'em. Well done Fraser Institue! Then we can get to work building the poor houses and treadmills.

  • Too Funny
    November 14, 2013 - 07:31

    Sounds like the Editor is making a preemptive strike.