Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ed Stelmach the economist

Tailoring his message to the audience, Stalemach went on Rutherford to attack the "Trudeau Liberals" and note that "[Mr. Chretien said] these resources are Canada’s. They’re not yours Albertans. They’re Canada’s... That worries me more than anything."

You would think that if Eddie was truly being kept up at night by the threats to Alberta's sovereignty, he'd actually speak out with respect to the demands in the rest of the country for Alberta's money. Ontario premier McGuinty and Newfoundland premier Danny Williams have just been two of the loudest voices calling for more federal money that could only come from Alberta. How difficult would it be for Stelmach to simply say Alberta does not support equalization that props up Ontario's failing auto industry? Apparently Ed is more concerned about the threat from someone in the grave. Alberta is also effectively subsidizing the rest of the country by not having our own pension plan, given our younger demographic. Yet only my party has proposed an Alberta Pension Plan.

"The other parties want to control our economy," claims Ed. Right. That's why his only significant tax move is to raise taxes on business and his spending policies are crowding out the private sector.

But most absurd of all is his contention that a vote for anyone other than Ed is going to lead to "22% interest rates". Interest rate levels are driven overwhelmingly by monetary policy, not fiscal policy. If you want to blame someone for 22% rates, blame Paul Volcker, Chairman of the US Fed, who made the decision to raise those rates, although the real villian in this piece would be the Fed of the 70s who increased the money supply and forced Volcker's hand. But to the extent that interest rate levels are influenced by fiscal policy, lower interest rates are made possible by lower inflation, and lower inflation means less spending. Stelmach's fiscal policy is the exact opposite: it is stimulatory like never before.

The bottom line is that when it comes to the economy, Ed does not know what he is talking about. His fiscal policy is aggravating the shortages and his tax policies are discouraging an increase in supply. When he says he is going to stand up against high interest rates, he's entered the sublime levels of absurdity. Interest rates are determined by the Bank of Canada, which in turn has to follow the US central bank to a large degree, and to the very limited extent that he has the power to bring them down, his tool is cutting back government spending in the province. If Ed can't find this tool, perhaps he could look under his dust-gathering tax cut tool..

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