Business must not be as usual,
and the "Dalhousie School" of Economics

Nipawin - February 27, 2001 - by: Mario deSantis


Pundits and politicians are teasing Conservative leader Joe Clark for being on a chronic
fishing expedition on Chrétien's involvement with the Auberge Grand-Mère. I support
him. How in the world we can make any progress if we continue to tolerate the continuous
degradation of our social texture? The degradation of our social texture is eroding our
social well being along with our clinical health, and no wonder that we are experiencing a
crisis in our health care system and how do we respond to this health care crisis?



we have
a problem

Well, our internationally renowned health economists have their answers for us, and they
are telling us we have no problem(1). But we have a problem, we have a problem in health
care, and we have a problem along all the horizon of our economic system. As we have a
Prime Minister serving his criminal friends, so we have his subordinate government serving
their friends. That is, our government is a creating wealth for the vicious circle of friends
of friends of friends.




The latest news is that while Jean Chrétien has been cleared from an RCMP investigation,
we have a police investigation probing fourteen cases involving the handling of millions
of dollars in public cash disbursed through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
(ACOA). The news is that ACOA has disbursed $683.2 million for some 4,647 repayable
contributions between 1987 and October 2000. Of this amount, $52.3 million is currently
in default with an additional $74.7 million having been written off for a total of $127
million or 18.4% in defaults and write-offs since inception of the agency(2).




What to do next? It is very embarrassing to realize that while our governments hail their
successes through the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the growth of
our international trade, we are experiencing not only a decadence in our social values, but
a growing inequality among people. We have a problem in health care, we have problem
with crime, we have a problem with poverty, we have a problem in education, and what do
our leaders do? They look at the GDP, and they play with numbers to let us know that we
have been doing so well in the last decade. We have been doing so great that not only we
were able to balance the budgets, but now we are happy to have budgeted surpluses for the
next few years(3).




What is a government for? To make a surplus? Since when? Our economic and social
priorities have taken a back seat to the interest of the Few and Privileged. The reality is
that we didn't do well in the last decade! While I am skeptical about comparing apples
with oranges, nevertheless I find compelling that between 1989 and 1996 Canada was the
only country out of thirteen OECD countries to experience a negative growth of per capita
real GDP(4)!




I am happy that changes in our way of thinking are taking place, and I want to single out the
innovative "Dalhousie School," a group of economists associated with the Department of
Economics at Dalhousie University, Halifax, and their collaborators(5). This school has
discounted the past monetary policies of the Bank of Canada(6), has discarded the notion
that the GDP is evidence of our well being, and has challenged the application of
"conservative economics" of our governments. Brian MacLean publishes the electronic
newsletter "CANADA'S ECONOMY IN THE NEWSPAPERS," Lars Osberg has been
proposing since 1985 a new social index(7) to measure our well being as opposed to per
capita GDP, and they all subscribe to the notion that it is possible to use macroeconomic
policy to stimulate aggregate demand in the Canadian economy, so that total output will
grow faster and the labour market will generate more jobs, less unemployment, less
economic insecurity and less inequality(8). Business must not be as usual!
  List of relevant political and economics articles


Dr. Michael Rachlis & Co. have the paper solution to save Medicare: Revitalizing Medicare: Shared Problems, Public Solutions, by Mario deSantis, January 25, 2001




Police probing federal loans in Atlantic Canada. 14 cases investigated: Briefing for minister reveals millions of dollars involved, Rick Mofina, Southam News, February 26, 2001




Surplus swells by $4.3B, by Alan Toulin and Jacqueline Thorpe, February 21, 2001, Financial Post




Canada's Disappointing Economic Performance, The Centre for the Study of Living Standards




The Dalhousie School: An emerging force in Canadian political economy, by Brian K. MacLean,




Canadian Macroeconomic Policy, by Mike Bradfield




An Index of Economic Well-being for Canada - with Andrew Sharpe, Lars Osberg, October 1998




Economic Policy Variables and Population Health, by Lars Osberg