March 20, 2020
Dear Friends of the Frontier Centre:
There can be plenty of irony when revisiting the oft-used old Chinese saying – “May you live in interesting times”. According to popular belief it is an English expression of a traditional Chinese curse.
While seemingly a blessing, the expression is often used ironically. As, life is better in the “uninteresting times” of peace and tranquility than in “interesting” ones, which are usually times of trouble.
The Covid 19 virus pandemic originated in Wuhan China. And, as it spreads, attacking the respiratory system of its hosts, it has created virtually unprecedented financial and social chaos world-wide. Governments are tripping over themselves aggressively shutting down entire sectors of their economies to, hopefully “stop” potentially thousands or even millions of deaths as projected in a report by epidemiologists at Imperial College in London.
Reports like these have been increasingly criticized by others, including the Hoover Institution’s Richard Epstein, for vastly exaggerating death totals. Nevertheless, these reports are being used as a reason to expand government spending towards compensating for their closure of industries involving the close social contact of millions of people: hospitality, entertainment, retail, schools, travel, tourism, etc.
Rational public policy is now needed more than ever. An example of such needed rationality, amidst public panic, has been demonstrated by Holland, where Prime Minister Mark Rutte has urged for a more thoughtful action based on the fact that Covid 19 will work its way through the community, and most people who will be infected will recover. The Rutte government has chosen to focus heavily on protecting the most vulnerable populations rather than shutting down their entire economy.
On this side of the ocean, Canadians are in for a purposefully more tumultuous ride. There will be a rapid and unprecedented expansion of government spending and power bringing huge deficits and job losses, and, undoubtedly, at least temporary decline in living standards.
The positive of this chaos will be the accidental disruption of great swathes of the economy and public sector, as activities move, for example, to the teleworking and telecommuting sector. The eventual need to bring balance back to public ledgers could mean long overdue structural reforms to our antiquated and overly bureaucratic government organizations. With solid leadership, we could be saying good bye to low-performing legacy models of public service delivery.
This valuable discussion seeking positives can happen only through the handful of organizations who talk about constructive public policy reform – like the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. So, rather than roll over and accept the unfolding chaos, we urge you to get involved and would welcome your support. Please consider a donation at your earliest convenience and help us make a difference – by advancing a dialogue about repairing what is likely to be plenty of bad policy slapped together on the fly.
Very best regards,
Peter Holle, President