The op ed page of today carries yet another message from private business, this time written by Nancy
Whipp of the Moncton Chamber of Commerce. It's the usual pitch to let private business get its fingers into the provincial budget. This time, it's in the form of PP3s, Private Public Partnerships, in which business joins with government in public projects like, say, building a school. That, she says, will free up government money and reduce the debt.
Right. And kissing a frog will turn it into a prince.
She produces a survey showing that a large majority of Canadians are in favour of PP3s. (There are just two problems with this survey. 1. It was conducted by something called the Canada Council for Public-Private Partnership. What would you expect from a survey conducted by a pressure group? Surveyers can do wonders with the wording of a question. 2. What can such a survey possibly mean, anyway? A good half of adult Canadians are functionally illiterate. They half has no idea what a PP3 is. 3. Not one percent of Canadians have sufficient training to understand the economics of a PP3. 4. The Canada Council for Public-Private Partnership obviously knows nothing of Canadian history. PP3s have been done in Canada -with expensive results.
Just a touch of common sense, here. If we go into a public private partnership to build a high school, private business would expect to interested in make a profit on it. And quite reasonably so. That's what business is for.
Who is going to pay the cost plus profits? We are. There is no magic money that comes floating down from the sky. Public or private or both, we still pay the whole shot. And we also have to include profits.
Woulldn't it be cheaper in the first place to require big business to pay its full share of taxes and its full share of utility costs? And to stop expecting handouts and loans and land from us to billionaires?
Perhaps The Chamber of Commerce could take a break from standing up to listen to O Canada, and spend the time reading some Canadian history. In particular, they should look at the Canadian economy in World War One when it was controlled by big business. They would learn, as every indisturialized state did, that trusting to big business was extremely inefficient and damaging both economically and socially. That's why every leading country in World War Two switched to extensive government controls on the economy. The results this time were excellent. And that's why Canadian business for a decade and more after the war studied the federal government to learn its methods.
The government "must commit itself to the creation of an economic climate of confidence with the private sector"?
Get real. There is no province in Canada in which a provincial government has been so servile to big business as it has been in New Brunswick (and most provinces have been pretty servile.) As a result, there may be no province which has given away so much of its wealth to billionaires.
Big business complains that government is inefficient and too expensive? Well, it's the money of big business that put government there. And if it thinks government should balance its budget, maybe big business should
pay its taxes and stop asking for gifts.