Saturday, November 3, 2007

Wealth Creation Equals Poverty Reduction

In today's Chronicle Herald, Ralph Surette swoons over recent statements by the UN special envoy to housing and concludes that more forced wealth redistribution would help Nova Scotia. Surette notes that tax-cutting and privatizing has prevailed in Canada over the last two decades. Unfortunately, he fails to connect those measures with Canada and "all its wealth" that he approvingly cites from the envoy.

It's old style thinking from people like Surette that keep our province poor. He wants Nova Scotians to be dependent on the state and dependent on Western cash. After all, "poverty reduction" is just a code for state seizure of property as if we are slaves whose belongings can be taken from us at any time.

In Surette's world, a province already as poor as Nova Scotia would jack up welfare payments, luring more vulnerable citizens into dependency, and jack up taxes, driving more capital to the West. He'd finance this all by taking more money from the West, making us all helpless without their contributions. Sure enough, this province will stay poor and he'd wonder why.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (a former economist) understands that the best form of poverty reduction is wealth creation. Wealth is not a fixed commodity--it can be created. Does Surette know this? Knowing journalists, he's probably not well versed in either economics or math. To create wealth, the right conditions must be laid, because wealth creators can pack up and move.

Premier Rodney MacDonald, a nice fellow though no economist, finally seems to have caught on to this. He still practices old fashioned business subsidizing, but he is sincere enough to be improving business conditions and busy attracting businesses to Nova Scotia. Of course, the reason he has to try so hard is that business conditions are lousy. (If you were a business owner would you freely choose this jurisdiction out of all the others in Canada to set up shop? Didn't think so.)

Nova Scotia's per capita GDP is less than half that of Alberta's so in fact we're pretty much all poor; we all need poverty reduction. And businesses, with that thing they provide called jobs, are the best way to do that. Lets stop giving them reasons to not start and thrive out here.

Perhaps some wealth redistribution is justified, but let's be real about this: there must be wealth to redistribute in the first place. You can't scare it all away and then demand that it be there to pass around.