Sugar beet growers are finding new and innovative uses for their crops thanks to support from the Harper Government. Member of Parliament LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced today an investment that will help demonstrate the viability of using beets in the production of sustainable alternatives to petrochemicals.
“Our government’s top priority remains jobs and economic growth, and the sugar beet industry plays an important role in driving our economy here in southern Alberta,” said MP Payne. “This project will help pioneer cutting-edge technologies that will enable our beet growers to diversify their customer base, increase their acreage, and ultimately boost their bottom lines.”
The title of the above government press release is: "Harper Government Helps Find Sweet New Uses for Sugar Beets."
I don't know what government PR flacks are paid, but clearly it's far too much.
This is micro-statism. It's unlikely that any major news organization is going to pick up on this story, nor the thousands of similar press releases that are issued each year. But this is how a rich nation goes broke and a free market becomes a semi-planned economy. The Harper government is not manned by wide-eye radicals. The cabinet and caucus are packed with dull and well meaning Canadians with moderately conservative beliefs. If you polled them the overwhelming majority would say they love free markets and think capitalism is great. Once upon a time even the Prime Minister said much the same thing.
Thing is that very few Conservative politicians have the slightest idea what a free market looks like. They imagine that it's something about being pro-business and pro-jobs. Their understanding has the intellectual rigour of wet pasta. Accusing Conservative politicians of selling out their principles for power isn't quite accurate. The typical cabinet minister and backbencher doesn't have much power and few of them ever had much in the way of principles. Those without firm principles tend to bend with the political winds. Thus the flexibility of the Harper Tories.
So why not give money to help southern Albertans find "innovative" uses for sugar beets? Why not give large industrial firms lots of money to help their R&D efforts? These projects create jobs. They generate economic growth. At least for some. A basic grasp of market economics can demonstrate that such projects are at best a waste of money, at worst an attempt to develop influence and control in the private sector. Even from a political stand point they are a short-term strategy of electoral bribery. You cannot deficit spend your way into permanent majority government status. Brian Mulroney tried that for nine years. Remember what happened to him?
Sugar beet farmers are more than capable of finding alternate uses for their products. The Ford Motor Company has been launching innovative products for over a century, much of that innovation was done with little in the way of government support. These corporate supplicants do not need this money. But if the government is giving away free stuff, why not get your cut? Afterall the other guy is doing the same thing.
If I could have any words inscribed on Parliament Hill it would be these: “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
Even sugar beet farmers.