You catch more votes with honey. To keep the coalition at bay, and endear itself to the voters, we expect our government soon to unveil a huge stimulus package. Since such incentives are historically unproven globally to resolve economic downturns, here are a few alternatives to consider, some more tongue-in-cheek than others.
The government could begin by blaming the media for magnifying issues to crisis levels. Last fall it was an environmental crisis. Now it is the economic crisis. The main difference is that the government couldn’t find billions to throw at the environmental crisis even when long-term jobs could have been created, counteracting other industries now in decline.
Another option is that our politicians could pat themselves on the back for a job well done on the last crisis. Is it really such a bad thing that the demand for cars is down? If cigarette sales were slumping would we bail out the manufacturers? We were urged to be part of an environmentally-responsible movement, more conscious of our carbon emissions. We listened. Otherwise, we might all still be driving big gas-guzzling North American SUVs that don’t last as long as their foreign counterpart . . . and the Big Three wouldn’t require the current bailout.
Perhaps our friends on the Hill could simply distance themselves from the U. S. Joneses saying our problems aren’t as bad. We aren’t actually in a recession yet, and our banking system isn’t as questionable. It will be harder to detach ourselves from some of their policies, like authorizing Band-Aid bailouts that don’t cure the disease, from carrying frightening national debt levels, from not raising taxes or reducing spending, and from taking on huge loans from around the globe.
Everyone loves a good scandal, so the government could point the finger at corruption within corporations and highlight bad business practices. After all, it isn’t nice to encourage people with no money to buy things they don’t need, even if they should know better. And clearly, CEOs should not be rewarded for such perverse behaviour. Bankers aren’t worth hundreds of times more than people who keep us safe (emergency personnel and soldiers), or those who care for us through our formative years (teachers and stay-at-home parents). Instead of coming up with bailout attachments, number-crunching bureaucrats could devise a system where the bulk of executives’ compensation would be tied to profits or share value five to 25 years down the road to ensure long-term corporate accountability.
Focusing on health and safety issues could also busy our leaders to keep Canadians safe from the importation of everyday goods lacking quality control, from toys with lead paint, to mass-bred chickens causing new epidemics. I am not suggesting protectionism, but I would be happy to hear a rallying cry for a “Made in Canada” campaign.
Politicians could also create new curriculum to educate us on the national debt, how it will change our standard of living, and why it will only get worse with baby-boomers’ impending retirements paired with rising health-care costs. The task would be to show children how we are mortgaging their futures without their consent. They would be welcomed, along with their parents, into lectures like: “Just because you have never seen a rainy day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save for one.” They would view Saturday Night Live’s money-management infomercial where Steve Martin and Amy Poehler learn revolutionary concepts like “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.” Adults would also be offered exclusive workshops sponsored by credit card companies including, “For everything in life there is Mastercard: the debt your children will inherit is priceless.”
While on the topic of credit cards, a taskforce could study whether they should fall into the category of addictions that shouldn’t be marketed or made available to our youth, like cigarettes, alcohol and gambling.
We can’t blame our politicians for using honey, because we helped elect them and didn’t scream for vinegar. We can’t blame the corporations, because we are their shareholders. And we can’t blame free economy — it is not the system, but the morals that are corrupt. As the morals belong to us, so must the change.
I will choose to follow (and elect or invest in) leaders who lead in a holistic, socially responsible way. I will do my part in my community, because I have a responsibility to the people and land around me. I will buy less, repair and recycle more, and buy more locally, including my honey.