The last two weeks have been a never ending stream of government noise. Here it started with the provincial budget. I always try and watch the budget coverage – professional penance. I actually had to turn it off it was making me so mad. Let me be clear. I do not support any particular political party - I think they’re all pretty stupid. But this time the provincial Liberals win the prize for all time dumbness. First and foremost, they present what they claim is a balanced budget, but in almost the next breath they admit that the provincial debt is increasing due to the budget. This is not balanced by definition. Oh well, chalk it up to creative accounting.
The non-deficit deficit doesn’t really bother me that much. What really pisses me off is the rhetoric about self-sufficiency. The idea seems to be that New Brunswick should work to become less dependent on federal transfers and equalization payments. Commendable. This means we need to make investments and attempt to improve the economy. The key planks of the budget do something entirely different. The standard “investments” in health care and the public education system are maintained (more on this later). But the real changes in the budget are increases in the personal income tax rate and the small business tax rate. Back the truck up Shawn! Increasing personal income tax tends to slow the economy down, not cause it to grow.
Across the country, small and medium enterprises are responsible for most of the economic growth. The logic seems to be we want to grow, so were going to make it harder for the key elements of economic growth to succeed. Granted NB still has one of the lowest small business tax rates in the country, but it is offset by a lot of red tape and government. It also sends a really scary signal. The Liberal government seems to be stuck in a model of government that we thankfully got rid of in the 90’s.
The truly scary thing comes from the census data. Between the two census measurement only two regions in New Brunswick grew. Moncton (ok – that’s an easy one to guess) and the other… No not Saint John. Fredericton. This one has be blamed on the PC party. Government continued to grow under the PC party’s leadership. While the province over all is shrinking, the government continues to grow – this sounds a lot like cancer. The Liberal government is continuing the trend. The only positive I can see is that the NDP isn’t running the provincial government here. We’re not talking the reasonably competent NDP of the prairies here. So I guess it could be a lot worse.But the people of New Brunswick are in extreme danger of being governed to death.