Thursday, September 13, 2007

London Fog interview with Paul McKeever:
Provincial-municipal relations

In August of this year, the London Fog sat down for an exclusive interview with Paul McKeever, leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario and candidate in London West for the provincial election this October 10. In this second instalment in the series of interview excerpts, Mr. McKeever discusses provincial-municipal relations and the proper responsibilities of municipalities in Ontario. He might even seem to have London in mind when he suggests how to constrain municipalities from building money-losing arenas, conference centres, and "momument[s] to my greatness, I'm the councillor of this, I'm the mayor of that…"

Best line:

Q: This year, if you were the premier, what would you say to David Miller who's got a $575 million operating budget shortfall and who … says that the only way that Toronto can keep running the way it does right now is that it needs more money from the government of Ontario?

A: He wouldn't get it from me…
"Each level of government should be generating its own revenues, that way there's an accountability for the taxpayers. The taxpayer knows what was spent by that government, and how that government got its money…

There's no reason why London should be paying for the TTC…"
The first instalment of the London Fog interview with Paul McKeever, Freedom To Choose, can be seen here.

See also: the Freedom Party of Ontario's platform on abolishing property taxes and Paul McKeever's message to the constituents of London West.


Anonymous said...

Each level of government should be generating its own revenues, that way there's an accountability for the taxpayers. The taxpayer knows what was spent by that government, and how that government got its money ... There's no reason why London should be paying for the TTC

Sure that's true, but if you want to keep government services but somehow make them "accountable" it shows that the most important characteristic of government services has not been understood.

Government services are unaccountable by definition. As soon as you decide that the taxpayers of Toronto are responsible for getting John Q. from A to Z then you have removed from Mr. Q. the responsibility of accounting for his own transportation. The government employees who operate the TTC are also not accountable, in the normal sense that businesses are accountable to their owners. If the goal of the TTC is not to transport people profitably then there is no longer any meaningful goal which can be used to "account" for the operation of the TTC. If instead of being profitable the goal is to carry the maximum number of passengers for the least amount of money then the operators will naturally keep the prices as low as possible and they will maximize the number of buses, streetcars, trains, etc. This is obviously going to lead to fiscal ruin, and obviously there is no way you could "account" for what they are doing - they were told that taxpayers A,B,C are responsible for transporting John Q. from place to place, and goddamnit that's what they are going to do. And needless to say, there is no particular motivation to limit costs or to pay market-rate salaries to the employees. This is why small-scale, locally-funded government services always end up as bloated, wasteful welfare programs which require municipal, provincial, federal and (sooner or later) UN, World Bank and IMF subsidies. It is the very essence of government services that they fail, go broke, and that the bills are passed upwards. When the bills can no longer be passed upwards you end up with a country that is a smoking hole in the ground, either literally as in Germany in 1945, or economically and spiritually as in the USSR circa 1989.

People are able to account for their money pretty well when they buy goods and services at places like Walmart or the dentist's office, and the people running those businesses don't seem to be having a terribly hard time accounting for where the money goes. The key is that they provide goods and services for profit, and profits are the only motivation that people need to serve other people well and efficiently. Whereas bloated, wasteful, unaccountable companies always disappear and better companies always replace them, government organizations always become more and more useless and wasteful until they implode. It's what they do.

The only reasonable position for someone who wants accountability for the public's money and who doesn't want his country to end up as a smoking hole in the ground is to strive constantly to make government smaller, not smarter. If the public is not ready to hear from you that government is not their Daddy (not even their local government) and that money doesn't grow on trees, then at least you'll be able to watch them march to their doom knowing that you told them the truth and you didn't blow any bubbles up their ass.

MapMaster said...

I don't think you'll find much disagreement from Mr. McKeever, although I cannot claim to speak for him — see his comments in the video regarding public transportation.

Until more people recognize or at least are willing to act upon these self-evident truths, the politically pragmatic approaches are to: (1) reduce the dependence of government services on taxes (i.e., make them pay for themselves through fees, etc.); and (2) remove their monopolistic privileges (i.e., barriers to private competition). From there, see how the chips fall — which is to say, exactly how we should imagine provided politics is prevented from interfering. Essentially, these are the approaches that Mr. McKeever is promoting re. health care, education, etc.