James Grant: The Forgotten Depression

A while ago, when the Canadian government abandoned the ‘long form census’ and stopped collecting unnecessarily intrusive information about us, the citizens, this simple act generated great controversy.

Not just in the media – inside my family, too!

You see, my father-in-law is a Keynesian…

It is a difficult admission to make, but, alas, it is true!

My father-in-law and I love each other very dearly – and truly respect each other as professional adversaries – but, when it comes to individual freedom versus central government control, the two of us just don’t agree…  And every chance we get (much to the chagrin to the other adults in the family), we battle for the souls of the next generation of our family!!!

Especially my children – his grandchildren.

And whatever else he may be, my father-in-law is brilliantly eloquent and very, very persuasive.  Neither of which traits I posses:  rather, I counter simply with the ‘deeply uncharismatic’ reason.

So, back to the time when the mandatory (as in – you’ll go to jail if you don’t reveal to the government your innermost secrets) ‘long form’ (i.e. constitutionally – none of the government’s business) census was controversially being cancelled.

Did I mention that my father-in-law, while a student of Economy and Political Science (sic) at Ottawa U wrote an essay deeply critical of Lester B’s economic policies?  Little did he know that his prof was Lester B’s drinking buddy…and mocked him with my father-in-law’s essay.

The next day, my father-in-law got a phone call:  “Belaire!!!  So, you don’t think I know how to run this country?!?!?”

And – he offered my father-in-law a job.  On the spot.  As his special economic advisor!

Needless to say, my father-in-law accepted.  He advised Lester B on economy while he was the leader of the opposition – and penned the wording much of Lester B’s laws – especially anything even remotely dealing with the economy, while Lester B was the Prime Minister.

And he advised and briefed many of Lester B’s ministers:  from PET through Chretien to Martin and many, many others. And, he mentored many subsequent top civil servants…some of whom tried (unsuccessfully) to rope me into what eventually turned into the sponsorship scandal…but that is a different story.

(Must state:  when it came to this scandal, my father-in-law was even more idealistic and naive than I…100% blameless, as he was well retired by then…but some of his past civil servant mentees tried to ‘repay’ him by trying to draw me in to the schemes so I could benefit financially…big time…until they saw I was totally not into corruption and that given proof, I would ‘blow the whistle on them’, at which point they kind of black-listed me…  Honesty is what my father-in-law and I share and the root of our mutual respect, despite our ideological differences.)

My mother-in-law still has a scrap book of all the political cartoons that included my father-in-law – from all the main stream media publications of those days.  And yes, when PET came to power and refused to heed my father-in-law’s advice (which, surprisingly, was actually reasonable) regarding Alberta’s oil-sands, my father-in-law could no longer take the Liberal corruption and resigned.

As he says: he used to be a classical liberal – but he held on to his morals while ‘his party’ drifted away from him.

Of course, he and I disagree most vociferously about which time period is best descriptive of ‘classical liberal’ – we both seek that title, yet each of us understands it to mean a very different thing…reflecting a different ‘era’ of what either of us believes constitutes a ‘classical liberal…

OK – I’m ranting – I beg your indulgence.

Back to the issue of the ‘long form census’:  we were up, at a cottage in northern Quebec, with the dog and the rabbit curled up by our feet, arguing over the benefits vs evils of the ‘long form census’.

DSC_2553

And, being the eloquent/charismatic one, my father-in-law was winning the argument – winning my babies’ minds over to the dark side!

That is – until I asked my sons what do they think the government was going to DO with all this information.

Which is what turned the tide…

Why bring up this story now?

Well, it is necessary for the young people in our society to understand what the proper role of the government ought to be – and just how easy it is for the self-appointed technocrats to usurp the decision-making process and subvert political  decision making to their pet ‘models’ and untested hypothesies…

The following video contains very strong empirical evidence for the benefit of denying governments the type of information they are most likely to seek, which would give them excuses to justify interventions in areas they have no right to intervene and interfere in!

Like, say, economy…

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