Is the world speeding up? Probably not – it’s just that so much news surfaces instantaneously and so much of it has the ability to impact our daily lives. I get my news through old-fashioned channels like newspapers and regular TV and news feeds that are on the mainstream internet. I think I’d be over the edge of sanity if I followed social media too.
In any case, here are some events I think you should be aware of.
On Nov. 3, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave Canadians an accounting of how much was spent last fiscal year and what more is going to be spent. There’s been lots of coverage but my take is this: the government is pushing you to take away that they are now being prudent, fiscally responsible and are focusing on getting the Canadian economy growing again and getting the budget back in balance before any of us are much older. Remember those words – you will be hearing them a lot.
This feel-good stance stands in sharp contrast to government actions. Canada’s debt stands at $1+ trillion. The government has told us for years that it would fall as a percentage of GDP. It almost never does because governments always find things to spend money on. Not only that. This government is bent on getting bigger. Not only is it hiring more public servants, but it is also deciding what sectors of the economy will jump-start economic growth — the new $15-billion Canada Growth Fund is an example. Substituting a public policy nerd’s idea of fixing our slumping productivity for entrepreneurial innovation is a tried-and-fail policy. Keep in mind that federal government spending already accounts for more than 40 per cent of all spending every time you hear about prudence, fiscal responsibility and budget balance.
On Nov. 6, the global climate change group, COP27 met in Egypt for more talk about keeping the planet liveable. Of course you know that climate change touches all of us and everything. Coastlines are changing and we should be thinking about what crops we grow now and what we may grow in the future. The last few years of pandemic, government spending, inflation, war and migration have hindered efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions to slow the pace of global warming. If greenhouse gas emissions don’t peak by 2025 and then rapidly decline, we will need to focus more on adapting to climate change rather than mitigating it. That means ensuring that anything new that’s built – roads, houses, bridges can withstand higher temperatures and more powerful storms. It means switching to drought-resistant crops.
On Nov. 8, our southern neighbors indulge(d) in their midterm election soap opera. (I am writing this on Nov. 6.) The United States has its own rocky road, but no matter who is in charge, the direction is clear – it is moving to a protectionist stance that does not include shelter to Canada. The American Inflation Reduction Act is a $500 billion “buy American” incentive designed to lure investment capital to the US. That’s not good for Canada, already a pathetic candidate for innovative investors. Keep this in mind when you see news of more taxes and more regulations.
Finally, a bit of good news. Maybe. According to the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, sometime this month the eight billionth human being will enter the world, ushering in a new milestone for humanity. In just 48 years, the world population has doubled in size, jumping from four to eight billion. The United States makes up more than half of the North American population of 600 million. America’s population is growing only modestly — Canada’s population is growing much faster thanks to international migration. The federal government understands this one important fact – we are an empty, ageing country that can thrive if we can integrate lots of immigrants who bring enthusiasm, ideas, desire for work and a peaceful life.
Dian Cohen, C.M., O.M., economist
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