The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Wise Prime Minister and the Trade Unionist

The Trade Unionist spoke up, saying, "It's clear, Ms. Prime Minister, that in order to create jobs, you must protect workers. higher taxes on the rich are fine. Too much liberalism in our trade policy ruins our local industry. The only thing you can do to protect jobs is to protect the workers who work in those jobs."

"Go on," said the wise Prime Minister.

"Well,"said the trade unionist,"for example, you can start with strict overtime laws. If all employers have to pay for overtime, then either the workers will get higher salaries, or the employers will have to create more shifts. Tradesmen who work specialized positions will be guaranteed a higher minimum wage. The minimum wage for all workers should be raised."

"But the question of minimum wage isn't a federal one. Every province would have to have a say. What if provinces kept competing for industries by lowering their minimum wage?"

"Of course," said the trade unionist, "certain powers would have to be consolidated at the federal level. We would have to raise the standard for all workers across the board."

"That might be possible when a company becomes big enough to be considered a federal Corporation, but when it comes to local companies, how could we possibly make all the provinces agree to a single standard? Plus, how could we possibly have startup companies survive and grow with rigid, centralized, and draconian labour laws?A strict mandate from Ottawa will never work in a country where the price of milk in Yellowknife is so different from the price of milk in Toronto," said the wise Prime Minister, "even if the provinces gave up their authority over labour, Federal laws on the matter would work in Ontario, but not in nine other provinces."

"But in order to create jobs, we have to protect the rights of workers!" said the Trade Unionist.

"You are right," said the wise Prime Minister, "but we cannot sacrifice the flexibility of traditional family business, and by forcing all labour to abide by national rules, we would create a barrier to new business. We need new businesses - startups, family businesses, small-scale entrepreneurs - to keep the economy going strong. To keep growing, we can't force a single, overarching labour law on all entrepreneurs... especially when labour is the largest expense for almost every small business out there! Every entrepreneur, even if he doesn't hire, adds another job to the economy: his own. More than that, startups create huge amounts of jobs, and the startups that become mid-sized are the biggest job-creation sector in the economy. By raising the single greatest cost to the small entrepreneur, we almost guarantee wiping out the biggest job-creation sector by making it more difficult to cross the magical boundary between small to mid-sized business. It's clear none of the three solutions I have heard solve the problem of job creation."

Almost as if on cue, the Economic Liberal, the Neo Conservative, and the Trade Unionist piped up "No single solution can solve all of the economy's problems!"

To which the wise Prime Minister uttered the only reply under the circumstances: "Of course! There is no single solution..."

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