Friday, December 09, 2011

What can Canada Learn? Europe moves ahead with fiscal union, U.K. isolated - The Globe and Mail

This story (EU Debt) is ... well ... OK, it is not interesting at all in the panic filled atmosphere of European debt crisis, but it is important and it is important for more then one reason:

1. Note the way those who have qualms about a tighter trans-national centralized fiscal regime are portrayed. I am not fan of the British PM and, yeah, he looks rather clumsy on TV, but come on? Clumsy? Is that what what reporting on a major international debt crisis has been reduced to?

2. Note that those who have concerns are portrayed as isolated and without any discussion of the potential merits of isolation. My bet is that right now, a fair number of Brits are happy they are isolated from the Euro. In other words, isolation is neither good nor bad. Its the context. Simply describing someone as isolated sounds bad but Britain has benefitted from its isolation (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Ireland, by contrast ... those non-isolated countries) have been hurt. What is more, we heard a lot about British isolation when it failed to sign onto the Euro. Yet, it turned out that that was the right decision. A little historical perspective, then, is not only missing but seems to have been edited out in an effort to portray caution and prudence as bad.

3. Note: "fog": not only is isolation bad but somehow it is addle-minded (foggy). This is just silly and one would have expected something better from "Canada's national newspaper" You get the point: the merits of the issue -- fiscal integration -- are avoided and replaced by name calling.

4. Canadians should pay attention to this because we have heard all this before. At the beginning of the 21st century, we heard that our banks were isolated. Red tape needed to be removed, mergers allowed, etc., etc., and now ... those people who supported that idea will at least concede that they were wrong. The isolated Canadian banking system helped protect Canada from the international economic crisis (or, its worst effects) and we should bear this in mind before we jump too quickly on international integration or fault the Brits for their failure to lovingly embrace a EU that is, frankly, a fiscal disaster.

But, we heard even more about this in the first decade of the 21st century. We heard Canada could not be isolated militarily from the US and so had to participate in the war in Iraq. We heard Canada could not be isolated from the US and so had to sign onto a revamped stars-warsesque missile shield (excuse my cattiness: how did those things go by the way?)  What about that much urged (in some quarters) plan for a common Amero in response to the Euro?

The lesson Canadians need to learn is that major policy decisions should be made with due care. Caution -- even if it creates isolation -- is not a bad thing and on a number of issues (for Canada) has actually served the country well, maintaining its sovereignty while avoiding a war now widely acknowledged as useless. It helped Canada maintain a more buoyant economy then the EU while avoiding the country being weighed down by a defence technology that the US government now concedes does not work.

So ... let's not call people names. Let's assess issues. Idealistic? 

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