Manitobans will pay the price
Re: Pallister determined to do it his way (April 23)
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has written extensively on what he calls "zombie ideas" in economics, by which he means ideas that have been repeatedly disproven scientifically but, rather than being consigned to the graveyard of history, are resurrected by idealogues and others with an axe to grind whenever they serve an underlying purpose.
One such zombie idea is that, in times of economic downturn, governments should impose austerity measures so as to save future generations from unproductive and unnecessary debt.
Psychologists have long known that people often act irrationally (i.e, contrary to demonstrated scientific truth) and then, after the fact, invent rational-sounding justifications for doing so. People are particularly likely to act irrationally if they are motivated to dismiss science and go with their — usually predetermined — "gut instincts" (see Trump, Donald J.).
Your editorial refers to what was learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s, namely that government austerity only makes economic downturns more severe and damaging, and recovery to prosperity slower. However, one need not look back so far in time. The Great Recession of 2008 also proved this same economic cause and effect, without exception, around the world. Even a majority of conservative economists have reluctantly accepted reality in this regard.
Premier Brian Pallister may truly believe that imposing austerity on Manitoba in the midst of a pandemic will save future generations from excessive debt. Nonetheless, he is profoundly misguided. If more than simple ideology and/or ignorance of history is at work here, perhaps our premier fails to distinguish between family spending and government spending, which are superficially similar but not at all analogous.
With the former, funds once expended disappear from the family economic system. In contrast, for the most part government expenditures directed at individuals and small businesses continue to circulate within the provincial economic system because citizens, especially those low on the economic ladder, use them to buy local goods and services. Thus, your expenditure becomes my income and vice-versa, in a continuous loop.
With his determination to impose austerity, Premier Pallister is not only refusing to prime the economic pump, he is draining the pump of its already rapidly declining supply of water. Current and future Manitobans will pay a high price indeed for his folly.
We don’t need no education?
The rhetoric Premier Brian Pallister has employed to talk about post-secondary education is dangerous. It insinuates a form of anti-intellectualism our society really cannot afford. When Premier Pallister plants the seed that education is a luxury and frivolity, he encourages people to mistrust science, facts and those who endeavour for greater social justice and equity in our societies. More than ever, we need rigour and science to guide us through these tumultuous times: Premier Pallister is undercutting our province’s ability to do this.
A holistically healthy society is one that is autonomous, resilient and emancipated. When education is in peril, a society is essentially prevented from achieving these outcomes. Premier Pallister is himself trained in education, so I am floored that he believes these proposed cuts are founded. I strongly doubt the training the premier received at Brandon, in education, encouraged this type of rhetoric and these types of actions.
Manitobans deserve to have access to competitive, renowned, innovative post-secondary education in their home province. I moved from Ontario to Manitoba (University Ottawa alum and former part-time professor) and have worked assiduously to create this very opportunity for each and every one of my students. What Pallister is proposing stands to send our brightest young talent in mass exodus to other provinces. Does Pallister relish the thought of a pandemic and a brain drain?
Renée Desjardins, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Translation
Université de Saint-Boniface
Re: COVID-19 provides cover in push to shrink government (April 25)
Dan Lett rightly points to the lie in Premier Brian Pallister’s statement that job losses will only come "in areas where people are not able to serve the public right now."
With university enrolments higher than 12 months ago, wait-lists in every course scheduled for spring session and teaching staff working harder than ever to deliver meaningful and rigorous courses online, how can Pallister call for an up to 30 per cent reduction in spending, an action which will most certainly result in job losses?
As a province, we’re currently about as far outside any known economic reality as it’s possible to be, but Pallister can’t think outside his long-standing austerity box, unable to imagine a different approach. Pallister (and his government) can’t see past his ideological fixation on smaller government; this at a time when other Conservative provincial governments (e.g. Ontario, Alberta) have recognized the need.
His deep-seated belief system is profoundly clouding his judgment, impeding any chance for an imaginative, courageous, empathic and therefore truly supportive response. Tragic for Manitoba.
As a U.S. citizen who immigrated to Canada in 1976, I was one of hundreds of thousands drafted in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. At that time, the war hung as a grim spectre of death over many of us young men. We had life-and-death decisions to make and our lives were put on hold. And many of us lost close friends in that war.
The war, for the U.S., spanned about 15 years — depending upon how you count. The total U.S. death toll is officially listed as 58,220.
By comparison, the COVID-19 pandemic is over three months old and in the U.S. will surpass the Vietnam War death total this coming week.
Why is this important? In both the Vietnam War and the COVID-19 pandemic, critical blunders were initially made and an attitude prevailed that the U.S. could conquer any and all its foes with ease — after all, they were/are the leaders of the "free world" and had/have the "best and brightest" brains on earth.
The attitude of invincibility has defeated many a nation and person.
Re: Manitobans can handle the COVID-19 math; Don’t say WHO didn’t warn us — it did; and Epidemic of domestic abuse during COVID-19 pandemic (April 25)
As I read the first section of Saturday’s Free Press, three articles jumped out at me as intelligent, informative and well-written.
The writer of your editorial should be complimented on making an important message in a clear and creative manner. Starting with Jack Nicholson grabs the attention of the reader and prepares us for an important but easily missed message.
Niigaan Sinclair also grabbed my attention by naming the victims and making the assaults he identified very real and personal.
Dan Lett, one of my favourites, excels in putting facts before emotion. I certainly had never heard of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board.
The Free Press continues to impress me with the quality of its journalism.