Who is the practical man?
Philosopher John Ralston Saul or B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell?

Nipawin - Saturday, February 16, 2002 - by: Mario deSantis


"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist,"

John Maynard Keynes, British economist




Rather than having people centered economic and social policies, we have governments dictating policies based on their ideological constructs. The world is not based on ideological constructs, the world is us, the world is people. However, it has become very difficult for people to express their public opinions as democracy has been eroding and as has the media become the voice of business and their governments. Governments, left or right or otherwise, have become all obsessed with the concept of reducing their roles in public affairs in accordance to the precepts of the Free Market, that is free trade supported by privatization and unrestricted competition.




The economic relevancy of a sound public service sustaining democracy as opposed to the current drive for ever greater privatization sustaining the Free Market can be appreciated by referring to the thoughts of Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul and by referring to the practical actions of B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.


John Ralston Saul says:


"Although government after government, from the Left to the Right, has been elected on a platform of job creation, the reality is that they have no idea of what to do. Why? Because jobs are one of the last steps on the production chain. Anyway, the marketplace these days is into job elimination... Many individuals in identifying government as their enemy have focused almost exclusively on the bureaucracy of government, but business is also dominated by a top-heavy bureaucracy. I would suggest that today the problem of managerial deadweight is far greater in the private sector than in the public. I would suggest that one of the key reasons that the private sector has been unable to revive and reinvent itself over the last two decades has been a lack of creativity brought on by a managerial rather than a creative owner-based leadership... Most business leaders who preach the ideology of capitalism, free markets, personal initiative and risk are themselves not capitalists. At the top of their bureaucratic business profession, the managers take fewer personal risks than a senior civil servant, who does not have the protection of stock options and golden parachutes."




Practical actions of B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell:
"Deregulation of all university fees... Cutting a third of the province's public servants, 11,700 of them in all... Slicing all budgets outside health and education by an average of 25 per cent... Running a $4.4-billion deficit this year and another huge one next year... Reducing personal income taxes by 25 per cent in one swoop, a cut that contributed to the huge deficit... The list goes on."


  Now the big question: Who is the practical man? John Ralston Saul or Gordon Campbell?


  Excerpts from The Unconscious Civilization, by John Ralston Saul (as annotated by Robert Bateman, reprinted with permission from the author)
  Calculated politics: the pain of B.C. radicalism, by Jeffrey Simpson, February 15, 2002, The Globe and Mail