If they know so much about business why are they working for the government?
The Government of Canada has provided significant resources in recent budgets to enhance the ecosystem that drives knowledge-based company growth and job creation, including:
$110 million per year starting in 2012-13 to the National Research Council to double support for companies through the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and to expand the services provided to businesses through the program's Industrial Technology Advisors;
$80 million over three years starting in 2011-12 to launch the Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program under the Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small- and medium-sized businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with post-secondary institutions;
$12 million per year starting in 2012-13 to make the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program permanent;
$12 million over five years starting in 2011-12 to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to support joint college-university research and development projects with promising commercialization potential;
$95 million over three years, starting in 2013-14, and $40 million per year thereafter to make the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program permanent and to add a military procurement component;
These are the actions of a Conservative government. Not some Liberal dirigiste stuck in a disco-era time warp. Nope this is the former head of the National Citizens Coalition shoveling corporate pork so fast he's likely to suffer a heart attack if he keeps it up. For those of you who have forgotten the following is from the Prime Minister of Canada way, way back in December of 2012:
“The larger purposes of state-owned enterprises may go well beyond the commercial objectives of privately owned companies,” Harper said, adding that he was concerned the oil industry could be controlled by foreign interests unless his government stepped in.
“To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead.”
This is a cognitive dissonance so sharp you could get whiplash reading about it. If the federal government is throwing money at venture capital firms that means, through paths straight or crooked, these firms are beholden to the federal government. The PM has admitted that state-owned enterprises have non-commercial goals. Well that applies to Canadian companies just as much as Chinese ones.
So why is the allegedly far right-wing government of Stephen Harper betraying its principles in a manner so crude and obvious even Macleans has picked up on it? Because the PM has realized that campaigning on principles is hard, risky and requires time and effort. Much like being a venture capitalist. Let me clarify that: Much like being a real venture capitalist as opposed to being a corporate pork whore. Stephen Harper is playing C.D. Howe because it is easier to bribe people than convince them. These pseudo-venture capitalists are sucking on the government teat because it's easier than having to raise capital the old fashioned way.
At the root of most big government projects is our old friend laziness. Why work when you can mooch? Why convince when you can bribe? Why strive when you might fail? Get someone else to cover the shortfall. Beneath all the high sounding nonsense about community, investment and economic "ecosystems" lies a simple cowardice in the face of reality. It isn't even that any of these people would face real hardship if they failed.
Let's say a venture capitalist goes out of business. He'll probably have to go back to working as an analyst at some bank. Not as flashy or as well paid, but he won't be going hungry. What if Stephen Harper loses power? He'll get the usual board of directors gigs and corporate speaking engagements. Probably fiddle way any extra moments in some plush position at the Manning or the Fraser institutes.
These people are much worse than the welfare bum. The welfare bum might actually find himself on the street if his government check gets shredded. These crony capitalists and their political enablers run no such risk. It's about ego. With other people's money they can pretend to be big shots, a privilege that would likely not be extended to them in a genuine free market.
Modern government: A temple to the cult of mediocrity.