The past week in Newfoundland has seen gut wrenching financial news for tens of thousands of citizens whether they're paying attention or not. Respected scholars are struggling to understand the targeting rationale and genuine reasoning behind the decision making process of budgeting our money---Newfoundland's money.
Lets take a step back, breath deep and look at the situation as if it didn't effect us at all, which is theoretically impossible. Stating the obvious over and over again won't provide answers to the underlying cause behind what we're seeing going on around us in the bigger scheme of things. It's like treating a cancer after it's spread out of control.
Governments hire economists to do a very specific job, which is to look at the long term effect of their decisions and what reaction can be expected from the people after bread has been taken off their table. Basically, an economist is there to advise on the philosophy of engaging the public with despicable actions.
History has shown that most economists in government and private industry are well educated in philosophy as well. Financial forecasting is relatively simple with a calculator and grade ten mathematics; forecasting how much financial abuse the population will endure is where the philosophical side of economics comes into play. Analyzing thought patterns of the masses to maintain control of the helm is a predictable and somewhat despicable job.
Voltaire, the French philosopher, visionary, and writer one wrote, "As I get older I come more and more to the view that this is not a metaphor at all, or at least not only a metaphor, but words of sage practical advice" I believe what he was saying is that the advise he had given as a paid government economist/philosopher, he could now envision becoming a reality of his own doing....and so it was to be.
As a young man, Voltaire was constantly in conflict with church and government, but ultimately captured the ear of the public throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. He became wealthy in his later years and used his wealth to create his own vision of what he thought was Utopian society. Voltaire laboured in the gardens he created, drained swamps, and built houses for the people. As I read accounts of the life he created, it seems as though Voltaire was, what we might call, "living the dream"
When I moved to Newfoundland a few years ago, I recall there was proud excitement about the latest premier and the visions he held for the people of the province. Danny Williams was being praised back then in the same way I suspect Voltaire had been by his adoring public. The level of confidence in the premier of Newoundland and Labrador seemed higher than that of Peter Lougheed, or Ralph Klein of Alberta had ever been, and it was good.
As a person who was not in touch with Newfoundland politics, I found the sudden resignation of Danny Williams tantamount to a betrayal of trust. Like when a spouse announces out the blue that they want a divorce and all of your real estate before they go, but they'll be around if the kids make the playoffs.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is by all measurable standards, better off now than we were five years ago. However, In the back of my mind I can't help but think that Newfoundland hasn't quite grown up yet. The situation reminds me of a pop star who doesn't know how to spend all her new found money, like when Brittany Spears went bonkers and shaved her head.
I have confidence that Newfoundland, just like Brittany, will meet a good man or woman some day and everything will work itself out over time. With any luck the new spouse will be just like Voltaire.
Meanwhile, I suppose we're living somebody's dream. In the future we'll put a label on it.