Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Economic sovereignty in the News

A couple of excellent articles in today's Globe and Mail. A great look at the Wheat Board, that while unbiased straight reporting clearly shows the advantages and disadvantages of competing globally with the power of the Wheat Board behind you or without it. Money quote:

Mr. Chorney, whose family has farmed an area 40 kilometres north of Winnipeg for the past 77 years, scoffs at the assertions of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers.

They speak for a tiny minority, he says.

He doesn't want to get into a debate about ideology; he's interested in the bottom line. If the Wheat Board was really hurting Canadian farmers, he asks, would the Americans have launched so many trade challenges?

"There's got to be a competitive advantage," Mr. Chorney says.

One of the most well-known studies of the Wheat Board, hotly contested by economists on both sides of the debate, argued that over a 14-year period the board averaged sales of $265-million more per year than would have been realized by multiple sellers.

But Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl makes it clear that opposing points of view are neither solicited or wanted:
The task force members are almost all well-known opponents of the Wheat Board, and none of the large provincial farm associations was asked to take part. Mr. Strahl says it would be pointless to have people in favour of the status quo on the panel.
And in the Globe and Mail's Business section of all places Columnist Eric Reguly sounds the alarm on the dangers of bulk water sales to the USA:

Water is a vital economic tool. Exporting water is tantamount to exporting jobs. Mr. Wihbey says businesses in Texas are already struggling to find water supplies and may have to leave the state if they come up dry. They're welcome to come to Canada. Or we can build a water pipeline to Texas to allow them to stay put, and fill their pools too.

Relinquishing water rights to NAFTA means relinquishing the sovereign right to manage Canada's resources. In a world of scarcer and scarcer reserves of fresh water, water is the most valuable economic tool this country possesses. It can be used to attract new industries. Or it can be exported to build industries elsewhere.

You don't expect such a clear eyed look at long term consequences beyond short term profits from a business columnist - at least I've learned not to expect it.

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