In the land of government plenty that vast landscape populated with the tax dollars of Canadians there is no shortage of politicians willing to hand out and defend subsidies to business and no dearth of corporations willing to take the cash.
In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell argued that, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Orwell's quip came to mind again recently after reading Bombardier's defence of taxpayer subsidies to business, this in response to my recent study on the matter.
Back in 1962 John F. Kennedy had been president of the United States for one year, four lads from Liverpool were about to hit it big in the music world, and a Saskatchewan lawyer, John Diefenbaker, was in his fifth year as Prime Minister of Canada.
In retrospect, 1962 was also notable for another reason: it was the start of a trail identifying corporate welfare recipients, many of whom have sought subsidies from the federal government ever since.
If business leaders ever wonder why a chunk of the public disdain business and call for higher corporate taxes or sector-specific increases (higher royalty rates for energy and mining, higher stumpage fees in forestry) or just increased business taxation in general, heres a clue: too many companies are addicted to corporate welfare.
Crony capitalism is problematic all on its own. Addiction to it only reinforces the perception that businesses cant be bothered to compete on merit, in an open market, but prefer to plead for political favours and protection at taxpayers expense.
With the recent first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, consider one beef from protesters that was legitimate: crony capitalism.
In general, Occupy Wall Street types could be described as a little too naïve about the downside of more government power, and too critical of people who exchange goods and services in markets.
But insofar as any protester was annoyed with politicians who like to subsidize specific businessescorporate welfare in other words, and which is an accurate example of abused capitalism, hand me a protest sign and give me a tent.
The well-known quip - The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - is often attributed to Albert Einstein or Mark Twain. Accurate attribution has never been confirmed.