By the time this article is in print, the provincial election will be long over and the people of Saskatchewan will be facing an interesting future. Where are we going and where are we going to end up? With Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party taking power once again, the New Democratic Party will be starting its long overdue rebuilding period, the Liberal Party will be in its 12th year of the infinite rebuilding phase, and the Green Party will continue to be shunned from the political spotlight despite running a full field of candidates. With a political scene like this, what will our province look like?
The popular answer is that the province will be exactly the same. In fact, we will have to continue to tolerate political discourse understood through the metaphor of left- and right-wing parties. Left and right is the never-ending paradigm that seems to make the “talking heads” of the media a lot of money for what amounts to political jargon wrapped in hot garbage. For the purpose of exploring the possible future we will face, let us forgo the left verses right nonsense and explore things as they are through the reality of state capitalism and high spending.
The last four years was the easy part for the Saskatchewan Party. The inheritance of a strong economy, surplus budget, and a general “good time” made it easy. It took a long time and a lot of sacrifices for the NDP to dig us out of the disaster its predecessors left us in. Now that is all gone. We will find out if Brad Wall and company are up to the real challenge.
Saying we have a strong economy is meaningless if that comparison is to the economic hardships of the rest of the country.. Would you say the Riders’ season was a success compared to that of the Argos? The Riders may be bad, but not as bad as the Argos! This feels increasingly like racing toward mediocre. Under the context of the strong economy, the Wall Government has made education, healthcare, and protecting the vulnerable cornerstone promises without raising taxes or raising royalties.
These promises sounds good, but these things rarely work out so nicely. Without anyone bothering to ask how we intend to pay for this spending, it is likely that the cash will come from government cuts. Wall’s spending plan is upwards of $3.5 billion. The result? People will lose their jobs through cost cutting measures. Running a deficit is an option, but it would most likely just piss off his party base. The worst thing is, this model doesn’t make any economic sense. Nothing keeps the economy strong like layoffs and lower aggregate spending, right? Wait … does lower aggregate spending by the government lead to layoffs in the private sector?
With Wall’s cost-cutting in mind, is it any wonder unions have become the official opposition of the government? The NDP has spent the last few years floundering about with little direction or identity. This is the left/right paradigm showing its ugly head. Scary words like “Socialism,” “Communism,” and other jargon are being spewed by our talking heads to effectively demonize the left wing. However, when Coke signs an exclusive contract to be the only pop on campus to protect its market share. do the same talking heads scream “Socialism”? When the government has to subsidize corporations through tax breaks and contracts for multi-national corporations, do they scream, “Communism”? Nope, that’s just good business!
When teachers do effectively the same thing by striking, all hell breaks loose. Why? Because they are protecting their market worth in terms of wages and benefits. There is demand for people with their unique skill-set, and they are simply organizing to ensure that their worth is recognized. Having one set of rules for companies and another for works. Sounds like state capitalism to me. If workers in the private sector are really upset about it, why would they not organize to protect their worth? Companies do it by signing exclusive rights in certain areas; why can’t you?
The next four years will be interesting, as we will see if Brad and the Saskatchewan Party are up to the challenge before them. Who knows, maybe they will surprise us as they lead us well into the future. If that is the case, I hope that they figure out that our resources will not last forever, and they have a game plan that will last long after they are done governing.