Good Government, Bad Government

Earlier this month President Obama gave an eloquent and important defense of government, something few politicians have done over the past few years, including here in Canada. Here he tells his audience of students that there are some important things that we can only do together and that’s what government is. “Government is us”, he … Continue reading

A Postcript on Big Government

Having posted yesterday on the limits and dangers of the ideological assault on “big government,” I read today with particular interest an op-ed by Tom Flanagan charmingly entitled, “Down with Big Government”. He argues that the Prime Minister’s refusal to shrink government goes a long way to explaining the political problems he has run into. … Continue reading

Big Government, Little Government: Blah, Blah, Blah

In debates about government at least, size, it seems, does matter. In Canada, the issue of size has not spawned the equivalent of the Tea Partyers, but it’s impossible to believe that we aren’t influenced by what’s going on with our neighbours. The Tea Party is only the latest expression of an ideology that has … Continue reading

Fire! Fire! But where?

So we have entered the age of crisis and that means confusing times. As I have written before, stealing happily from Emanuel and Machiavelli before him, crises are destabilizing and therefore create opportunities for big debates and dramatic changes not normally possible. A few decades ago, Mancur Olson, the American economist and social scientist, wrote … Continue reading

Gross National Happiness

An old friend sent me an unusual article from an unusual source today on tiny Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness (GNH) approach to life, learning, policy and measurement. Coincidentally, this arrived just as I was about to address the PPX on performance measurement. In the age of accountability, measurement matters. We know that it’s … Continue reading

A Wasted Crisis

In Canada, we seem to have weathered the financial crisis better than many, partly because of years of financial sacrifice by Canadians to regain fiscal sovereignty and partly because of continuing hunger for our natural resources. But in the almost-aftermath of the crisis we, like other developed countries, are now faced with exceptionally tough policy … Continue reading

“Never Waste a Good Crisis”

The statement that we must “never waste a good crisis” is generally attributed to Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, in response to the Wall Street meltdown. Many have made the same point and, in fact, the words can be traced back at least to Niccolo Machiavelli who wrote, “Never waste the opportunity offered … Continue reading

The End of Progress?

Margaret Wente, always of value and never boring, has written an important and disquieting column about, among other things, the capacity of government. Wente inventories the string of crises – the financial meltdown, the Gulf oil spill, the European meltdown playing out in Greece, for starters – that not only continue to cause untold harm, … Continue reading

More on More Taxes

Well, I watched Steve Paikin’s Agenda discussion on taxes. His guests: Andrew Coyne, Diane Francis, John Tory and Hugh Mackenzie, with only Mackenzie really pushing for more taxes to fund government services. It was an excellent discussion. Andrew Coyne, as one would expect, wants less government, fewer subsidies and greater reliance on user fees where … Continue reading