A report was released last week from the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think-tank, which surveyed 25 economists from the four western provinces to get their suggestions for what the federal government should be doing right now. Among the recommendations:
There was also a consensus that the feds should quickly inject money into the hands of consumers and businesses by strengthening Employment Insurance and other programs designed to act as a safety net during difficult times. The unemployed, pensioners, students and others more likely to spend than to save should be on the top of the list. Federal support for provincial social programs should also be increased as a short-term measure. "Getting more funds into the hands of individuals who most need support and will quickly spend the money should take priority over cutting personal or business taxes," said Jonathan Kesselman of Simon Fraser University.
Kesselman, BTW, is a Research Fellow with the C.D. Howe Institute, so he's not exactly some left wing radical.
The only explanation I can come up with for Harper's bizarre and illogical stance on this issue is that he sees "the economy" as some sort of abstract thing - a delicate and complex machine built entirely out of stocks and corporate profit margins and cash. Human beings on the other hand, seem to be considered a nuisance - necessary evils who function primarily as labour units in the machine, but also tend to act as a drain on precious profits and so must be kept as close to the edge as possible without requiring them to rely on government assistance.
Apparently this approach is not only inhuman, it's not even good economics. Go figure.