In a few days the "fiscal cliff" deadline will arrive and potentially bring massive automatic spending cuts and tax increases to the U.S. Even if Congress and the President agree to avoid the cliff, the next crisis awaits. It has long been said that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. So why have these debt-related ailments in the U.S. not afflicted the Canadian government? The answer is that Canada has been practicing what the U.S. always preached. That is why we Canucks are not jumping off cliffs or smashing into ceilings.
While several countries, mostly in Europe, continue to struggle economically, one country stands out as an example to follow: Sweden. For almost two decades, the Scandinavian country has managed to maintain strong economic growth despite levels of taxation and public spending that rank among the world's highest.
Those who have seen the documentary Queen of Versailles usually laugh at the outrageous lifestyle of David and Jacky Siegal, a billionaire and his trophy wife. The film begins in 2008, before the market crash. The economic downturn froze the construction of their incredible 90,000 sq ft mansion in Florida. But we can learn from them. What kids and adults need are some lessons in the lost art of budgeting, living within your means and learning not to spend what you don't have.
For three years, my political party has veered in a direction I cannot follow. And if the GOP insists on framing the 2012 election as a ballot question on fiscal and monetary austerity, or if they nominate somebody manifestly incompetent to do the job of president, they're going to lose me -- and a lot more people.
Although the Harper government has no problem spending money, I believe that they will probably ramp up the cuts that have already started. We must make sure that we are not balancing the books on the backs of the poor. Make no mistake, poverty costs us all. It forces up our tax bills and depresses the economy.
As the global economy continues to struggle, the image of heroic leadership has waned. President Obama falls into this category, exhorting Americans to buy his economic agenda but running into the obstacles presented by Congress and a cynical and deeply divided public.