In the original Superman comic books, there was a place called Bizzarro World where the evil Superman lived. Black was white, up was down and everything was pretty much ass-backwards.
Many times over the last 15 years I have thought of Newfoundland and Labrador as Bizzarro World. For example: although we are the home of aquaculture technology and have 500 years of seafood market history behind us, we don’t seem to participate in the aquaculture revolution the rest of the world has seen over the last generation. Why? It’s Bizzarro World here. Has been for a long time and will be for a long time.
The latest example of this is a complete 180 degrees from our normal shtick — while the rest of the world has gone into the economic toilet over the last 30 months, this province has enjoyed a financial bonanza like none other in our history.
When Muammar Gaddafi bombs his own people, he drives up oil paranoia and therefore prices — and we reap the benefits. The Lehman Brothers go down? We get resulting world financial instability, higher oil prices and more royalty money.
We can’t lose this game.
Party now, worry later?
So, after being down and out for most of our 500-year history, do we use this windfall to invest in ourselves? Fund new industry? Trim the sails and save for the future? No. We double everyone’s allowance and get drunk on the easy money for as long as it lasts.
And it’s lasting. Aside from a recent comment from the auditor general about over-spending (now that he is allowed to talk again, since Danny Williams has left office), there has been no mention in the last eight years of our incredibly ballooning budget.
Like a poor family that wins the lottery, no one is complaining too loudly when the bills triple — as long as the moolah is there to pay them. When it runs out, the hangover will be bad, but why worry about tomorrow while the party’s going on?
Like a poor family that wins the lottery, no one is complaining too loudly when the bills triple — as long as the moolah is there to pay them.
Make your hay while the sun is shining, my uncle Craig used to say… or get pissed and sleep all day. Trying to work out why Newfoundland is not a diverse economic powerhouse is an exercise in frustration. That kind of thinking chewed up a good 10 years of my life.
I have asked the Indy team to take a good look at what is going on here with our money and our spending, and put it in bites everyone can digest.
I look forward to being shocked about what we are spending and how far out of whack, budget-wise, we are with the rest of the region, country and world. Being out of whack with everyone else isn’t particularly strange for us, but actually having the cash to invest in and diversify our economy is.
Too bad we have been using our cash to swell the government payroll to all-time highs even while our population dropped. Who wouldn’t have 80 per cent approval rating after doubling spending?
Not popular, not easy, but we had better start this conversation while we have time to do it.
The fact that we have sold our economic soul for the black gold that is also ruining our world climate as we burn it up is another irony, but I will leave that for another time in the not-too-distant future.