Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quebec: The Greece of North America

Quebec is unsustainable.  Captured by radical feminists and socialists in the mid-twentieth century, it now pursues the most radically leftist policies of any jurisdiction in North America, even more left-wing than California. 

The welfare state has created not just a host of entitlement programs, but more importantly, an entitlement mentality in which poorly-educated people with low levels of numeracy expect the government to fund their individualistic, hedonistic lifestyle indefinitely and without limit.  This mentality is about to crash into the harsh reality of a declining population, a stagnant economy and lower government revenues. 

In this European-style situation, the government will tack first one way then the other.  Sometimes it will try to impose a dose of fiscal sanity here or there and the result will be riots in the streets.  See the story from yesterday's Toronto Star below:
MONTREAL—A spring of discontent in Quebec characterized by scenes of red-clad student protesters erupted into something darker Friday.
Demonstrators hurled projectiles from rocks to flower pots in downtown Montreal, disrupting political events indoors and committing vandalism outdoors. Riot police fought back by swinging batons and firing rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters into the crowd.
Police said some vandals even tossed rocks from an overpass onto a busy downtown expressway. There were no reports of any injuries in those incidents.
But several people were injured — reportedly including police officers — during protests of a broader nature than the weeks-long anti-tuition demonstrations that have occasionally snared traffic in cities across Quebec.
Provincial police were called in as local officers struggled to handle crowds that disrupted two separate events, including one featuring Premier Jean Charest and, to a lesser extent, one involving federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
A few participants stressed one message: This isn't just about university fees anymore.
“It's not just the tuition increase,” said Alexis Remartini, 18, who who took a 60-kilometre bus trip from St-Hyacinthe to attend the protest.
“The movement has grown to include other things we don't agree with.”
 This is about the government imposing a $325 per year increase on university and college tuition over five years, which will still leave Quebec with by far the lowest tuition rates in the country.  So fiscal austerity is going to be tough.

So, other times the government will attempt to borrow more and increase the debt.  But contrary to settled economic doctrine among left-leaning "economists" the situation in Europe is demonstrating that countries cannot continue running up the national debt indefinitely.  So the Quebec government will likely try blackmailing the rest of Canada into transferring more and more of the national wealth into Quebec in order to pay for free daycare all the way through university. 

But demographic changes in Canada show a move of population, economic growth and political power away from central Canada to the West (and to a limited extent to east to Newfoundland).  The federal Conservative government is firmly controlled by Western Canadian interests and will be harder to blackmail than the Liberals were.  At some point, the rest of Canada is likely to say to Quebec, "Good riddance."

Then the Quebec government will be back to austerity and budget cuts, which will lead to further unrest.  Immigration will be ratcheted up in a vain attempt to maintain the population but it will make assimilating new immigrants more and more difficult, which will lead to a different kind of social unrest.  Japan may experience a quiet, dignified slide into "that good night" because of its social homogeneity and national character.  But the streets of Montreal are not likely to be quiet or dignified.

The future is not rosy for Quebec.  It is living beyond its means on the basis of a secularist, socialist worldview that is out of touch with reality and its economy is unsustainable.  The giant feminist-socialist social experiment launched in those heady days of the 1960s is slowly falling apart but those who launched it will be dead before things really get ugly.  So I guess they might, for that reason, count is a success from their perspective.  Those who are still around may beg to differ.   

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