Government as entrepreneur

Isn’t that an oxymoron? But that’s next because the recession is giving government the excuse  — as if they needed it — to take more and more control .

They aren’t keeping it a secret. Take for example the Liberal Minister of Economic Development for Ontario, Michael Bryant. His speech to a business audience at the Canadian Club was titled “Reverse Reaganism” . [You will remember that Reagan said  “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” It seems Mr. Bryant doesn’t agree.]

He calls the economic policy he promotes “Obamanomics“,  a” Supra-ideological approach,”  “post Boomerism” with a focus “less on individual rights” , finding a “place between idealism and realism” [ Yet, elsewhere he says it is highly idealistic. Go figure].  He says it is not partisan, but pragmatic. Then he says it is about “individuals more sharing in the wealth of an economy.” [sic]

He says that governments have to play a role in helping failing companies survive. [He is obviously not an evolutionist!] If they don’t survive he theorises then there is no way they can thrive.[ Duh] He says “flat is the new up.” It’s government’s role to help companies survive but not all of them. The ones government chooses.  The survivors of this rough economy, he says, will be in a position to leap frog over the competition when the recession ends. [One might ask what competition? The ones that didn’t survive? Or the ones that survived without a government boost?] .  He envisions  “the state as Uber entrepreneur” . [Their words always betray them, don’t they?] “Governments investing directly in businesses.”  “This is government choosing winners and losers.” [Those are his words not ours!]

And why do we in Canada have to do it this way? Because the US is doing it this way.

He wants “help” from real entrepreneurs. He wants companies to co-operate with government getting involved in business. To partner in their own demise or to take advantage of massive corporate welfare?

His  audience doesn’t exactly look enthused. They didn’t laugh at his lame jokes and the applause wasn’t exactly thunderous.

You can see the whole speech here.

The ideas so openly expressed in this speech are getting some reaction:

In the Toronto Star:

What he [Bryant] said was: “It’s preposterous to imagine that government in this century or the last century is not the most impactful institution in our day-to-day lives, outside of the family,” as part of his justification for making the state society’s “uber” or ultimate entrepreneur. …

In other words, since, save for the family, the modern liberal state has more impact on individuals (i.e. “in our day-to-day lives”) than anything else, it’s a logical and just extension of the state’s power that it should use public money to pick which businesses succeed and which fail in the marketplace, for the greater social good.

But I’d argue Bryant is actually underselling the activist role of the modern liberal state as he and those who share such views envision it. I’d suggest what they really believe is that the modern liberal state — guided by wise elites such as themselves — should take precedence over the family, in the pursuit of what they conceive is the greater social good.

In that sense, Bryant’s theory of the modern liberal state as the “uber-entrepreneur” is only part of the equation.

Universal daycare is another — the state as the “uber” parent.

and in the The Ottawa Citizen

Events of the past several months have certainly made private-sector executives look incompetent, but the corollary is not that politicians are better at business. Leaders in Canada and the U.S. have been exhibiting a smug superiority as they sweep up after the crumbling private sector, but these politicians aren’t smarter. They just live in a less-demanding world.


Compare that to the world of government, where success is defined by the party in power. With taxpayer-funded spin doctors and the power to establish the official version of events, government has a relatively easy time making us think it’s doing a good job. The opposition parties, media and government auditors can cause the occasional moment of embarrassment, but it’s usually manageable.

In government spin-talk, out-of-control spending is usually called “increased investment.” When government tax revenues drop by billions of dollars, the politicians borrow enough money to avoid any real change or cost-cutting in their own operations, then call the debt binge “economic stimulus.”

And here at ww. We think the thinking displayed by Mr Bryant is scary. And we think he should have shielded his laptop on the plane from the lady, his seat-mate,  who he says read some of his speech and thought it was a graduate thesis.


One response to “Government as entrepreneur

  1. This is a wonderful idea. We save those who can’t float their boats by taxing those who can. Sooner or later the only boats in the water are those who can’t float. That’s the very definition of government . . . hoards of people on the public payroll who couldn’t float a boat if they tried. Who do we tax then when everyone needs saving? Let’s not worry about that now, tomorrow’s another day. Can we tax those Canadian owned boats flying other nation’s flags? This idea just gets better and better the more one thinks about it. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me feel to think that these ideas began in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada’s first and foremost fair-trade community. A town where “sustainability” is achieved by taxing the wealthy to death!