January 28, 2009
A couple weeks ago, I sent the following e-mail to Stephen Harper:
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
As a long-time supporter of the Conservative Party and of you personally, I am very concerned about the news I have been hearing that your government is planning a massive increase in spending in the upcoming budget.
Trying to spend our way out of recession simply doesn't work. Bob Rae tried that in the early 1990's, and it achieved no significant recovery. The one major impact it did have was that future generations of Ontarians will be have to pay for its failure. Please don't force all Canadians to do the same.
Also, I don't believe this is something you need to do in order to prevent losing power. If Michael Ignatieff wants an election or to take power via the coalition, then he will find an excuse to oppose your budget, no matter what. Likewise, if he wants to avoid an election or discard the coalition, then he will find an excuse to support (or abstain from) the budget, no matter what.
Additionally, a big spending budget now will greatly increase the size of government, which will be very difficult to undo, even when economic conditions get better.
I am okay with recession-fighting measures like tax cuts (since those are a good move in general) and increased spending on things like infrastructure projects that would have eventually been built anyway (since the costs of construction will likely be lower during a recession).
Regardless of what happens on this front, I will still vote for the Conservatives, as I believe the other parties would do even worse. However, I feel very strongly that big spending increases purely for the sake of "stimulus" is a bad move which will hurt the country. Therefore, I feel I must inform you that if you go ahead with that kind of plan, I will no longer donate to the Conservative Party. I will also let other Conservative supporters know how I feel on this matter.
The measures you implement in this budget will affect Canada for a long time to come. I urge you to do what's best for our Party and our country. Thank you.
I also sent this letter to Jim Flaherty, Irving Gerstein, one of my Conservative Party National Councillors, and the conservative.ca website.
As you probably already know, the Conservatives didn't follow my advice. The new budget has a $34 billion deficit in the coming year, and $85 billion over five years. And most of that is spending, not tax cuts.
When you look at some of the specifics, it gets even worse. For example, there's a "Community Adjustment Fund" to "help communities adjust to economic hardship." While this sounds noble, it's also a boondoggle waiting to happen, and rather unlikely that the government can do anything significant to actually accomplish it. The amount of infrastructure spending being dumped in a short time period is also worrying, and is ripe to become a "Bridges to Nowhere for everyone!" fiasco.
There's a $1,350 tax credit for home renovations. Why exactly do we need to be artificially supporting this luxury?
Speaking of luxuries, there's $325 million for arts and culture. Excuse me? These perpetual whiners played a significant role in denying us a majority in the last election, and you're rewarding them with even more handouts? Face it: they're never going to vote Conservative, so there's no point in trying to suck up to them. And more importantly, they don't deserve the money.
The Conservatives may be able to win back my donations in the future, but for now, it looks like I've found a simple way to tighten my own belt in these tough economic times. (And it looks like I'm not the only one...)