Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stephen's Id Versus His Super-ego

Stephen Harper’s recent address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland made headlines for the prime minister’s suggestion that Canada’s Old Age Security plan needs to be overhauled. What didn’t make headlines, however, was the internal dialogue Mr. Harper’s mind was obviously having. The italicized portions represent his moralizing super-ego in the form of the actual words spoken by him at Davos. The parenthetical portions are the more instinctual responses by his id.

On what we must do now: First, we will, of course, continue to keep tax rates down. (I’m an economist by training so I know this won’t work for the economy. But my right-wing constituency demands it and I do know what works politically.)

We will be taking measures in the coming months....Not just to return to a balanced budget in the medium term, but also to ensure the sustainability of our social programs and fiscal position over the next generation. (Boy, am I having regrets about pissing away that huge surplus the Liberals left me. Oh, well, it looks like no one’s really noticing that screw-up anymore. Chances are they still won’t remember come next election time.)

The problems afflicting Europe — and for that matter the United States — are not only challenging today but, in my judgment, threaten to be even greater problems in the future. (It’s fun to take potshots at the big boys but I sure hope to hell they figure this mess out. Otherwise we’re screwed, too.)

We have already taken steps to limit the growth of our health care spending over that period. (Luckily, for me, I’m part of federal employee plans which compensate me 80% for drugs and additional medical procedures and 90% for most dental work.)

We must do the same for our retirement income system....For those elements of the system that are not funded, we will make the changes necessary to ensure sustainability. (After all, someone has to bear the brunt of this coming crisis. Just so long as it’s not me and I get to keep my MP’s pension of $18,626 a month if I stick it out to 2015. In my position, $223,517 a year may not be enough but at least it’s a start and it is indexed.)

We will also continue working with the Obama administration to implement our joint "Beyond the Border" initiative, our plan to strengthen and deepen our economic and security links to our most important partner. (I wouldn’t mind joining the United States. Hey, who wouldn’t? So long as I’m part of the one per cent and with my generous pension and potential revenue from speaker’s fees, I should have no problem qualifying.)

However, at the same time, we will make it a national priority to ensure we have the capacity to export our energy products beyond the United States, and specifically to Asia. (Screw those environmental terrorists and their political buddies in The White House. Once we get one of our Republican pals reelected, we can get that Keystone pipeline project back on track.)

In this regard, we will soon take action to ensure that major energy and mining projects are not subject to unnecessary regulatory delays - that is, delay merely for the sake of delay. (How do those bleeding hearts figure we can grow the country if we have to check for problems all the time? Once the economy is booming again, no one’s going to cry over a little spilt milk, oil or uranium.)

We will ensure that, while we respect our humanitarian obligations and family reunification objectives, we make our economic and labour force needs the central goal of our immigration efforts in the future. (Except, of course, for our investor immigrant program. If you can afford to buy your way in, why not? After all, isn’t that the American - I mean Canadian - way?)