The Perils of a Little Knowledge

You’ve heard the saying: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Such it is for Thomas Mulcair, mercilessly whipping his new favourite hobby horse, “Dutch Disease”, a vaguely-articulated academic observation now parading (for him, at least) as a full-blown economic theory.

Mulcair has latched on to a strategy nominally aimed at the improvement of our economy but it’s transparently a purely political gambit, establishing a wedge issue to drive voters into the NDP fold. Mulcair, whose prior background in economics derives from the standard NDP playbook, “tax the rich; sock it to the corporations”, is now playing victim politics on a regional basis; Ontario, for example, can blame it’s entire plight on the West, not lack of global competitiveness, productivity shortfalls or horrendous provincial financial management. It’s always nice to find a bogeyman outside one’s own home.

Lots of folks smarter than me have adequately deconstructed the supposed phenomenon, its causes and whether it even applies to the Canadian economy. What’s more than a little distressing is that Mulcair now has “a plan” for dealing with the “problem”: He would hobble the resource industries with regulation, carbon taxes and “sustainability” oversight. This would (magically?) improve the situation of the manufacturing sector.

If you’re tempted to ask how it’s possible to minutely distribute these additional restrictions and obligations upon a narrow range of economic activity without further hobbling the broader economy, you’re not alone. Mulcair, of course, will assure you his “plan” will do just that.

There are plenty of people more than adequately disaffected with the machinations of the financial industry, the ongoing era of the new austerity and a generalized anger toward government in general that they may just take a flyer on Mulcair’s ‘vision’ in the next election.

For my money, putting Thomas Mulcair in charge of the Canadian economy would be tantamount to elevating a nominally-competent bicycle mechanic to head NASA; a dangerous extension of the Peter Principle if there ever was one.

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