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.
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.
If there was a theme in the recent federal budget, it was how chock full it was with new corporate welfare. The underlying refrain was how big government will help big business with your tax dollars.
For example, early on in Budget 2013, it is clear that crony capitalism is scattered throughout the budget. On page six, Ottawa promises $1-billion to the aerospace sector over five years through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative; thats the main government program for disbursing taxpayer cash to the aerospace sector.
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.