Friday, July 20, 2012

European Caricatures

The Conservatives have spent a lot of time and energy berating Europe. Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty and Pierre Polievre have all suggested that the Europeans are inept bumblers. The latest broadside has come from Senator Doug Finlay, who wrote in the Globe and Mail that they have "taxed and regulated away any chance of serious economic growth."

The Conservatives believe that all 27 European countries are in the same boat as Greece. But Dan Gardiner writes in today's Ottawa Citizen that there are several countries that are doing quite well -- particularly when one looks at their net debt:

According to the IMF, Canada’s net debt in 2011 was 33.3 per cent. That’s good. It’s better than Germany’s (56.1 per cent). It’s better than that of most other developed countries’. And it’s vastly better than that of France (80.4 per cent) and Italy (99.6 per cent).

But it’s worse than Canada’s net debt in 2006 (26.3 per cent), when Stephen Harper took office. It’s also worse than the 2011 net debt of the Netherlands (31.8 per cent). And it’s much worse than the 2011 net debt of Denmark (2.6 per cent).

And it’s positively horrible compared to the net debt of Sweden (-21.4 per cent). And Finland — which, as we have seen, has a net debt of -59.9 per cent.

 Why are Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark in better fiscal shape than Canada? Well, consider taxes in those countries:

Yes, these countries have higher taxes than we do. That’s how they pay for the social services their people want without piling up debt. But has that stifled economic growth? According to the OECD, the average annual growth rate in Finland and Sweden, between 2000 and 2010, was equal to or higher than in Canada. Norway was a little lower. Only Denmark did poorly. And remember that during that time Canada benefited massively from one of the biggest commodity booms in history, a detail Conservatives seldom mention when they’re praising the Great Helmsman.

Unemployment? In 2011, it was 7.5 per cent in Canada. That’s low relative to most developed countries. In Finland, it was 7.8 per cent. In Denmark, it was 7.7 per cent. In Sweden, it was the same as in Canada. In the Netherlands, it was 4.5 per cent. In Norway, it was 3.3 per cent.

Yes, some European countries are in trouble. But the ones that aren't in trouble followed policies which the Conservatives have demonized. However, this government won't tell you that. They deal in caricatures, not facts.


thwap said...

Great presentation of the facts Owen.

Owen Gray said...

And the facts speak so clearly, thwap. The Conservative program is economic hogwash.

Beijing York said...

Is this "deregulated away" a typo? I can't imagine any Harperite being in favour of regulation.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Bejing. It's a typo. My mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.

As Twain said, the difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.

Correction made.