I am developing  a distinct unhappiness with newspapers at the moment. Mostly this is reflected on the cavalier way in which journalists address “The Economy”.

When a local reporter remarks that a particular government program costs too much money, that government services are unsustainable and should be cut; and in so many breaths dismays the lack of jobs available to citizens in this uncertain economy–I am confused. Lets go on a journey and follow some logical steps through micro-economics.

I will make the assumption that we all understand the basics of a Supply Curve and a Demand Curve. Good. Let’s continue.

The media states (para-phrased by me): “Health Care services keep diminishing while taxes keep rising, this is clearly the fault of a Top-Heavy Elite which is living on the Gravy Train of tax dollars”

I will not debate that perhaps the “management” over “leadership” iniatives of corporate structure within most corporations, inlcuding Interior Health do exist, and there are great ineffiecincies here. The technical term here is known as Diseconomies of Scale, and in many ways Interior Health may be far along that Long-Run-Average-Cost Curve, perhaps even the Short-Run curve too. However if we analyse the local economy we can deduce this fact:

1. When a person in our community earns a wage, large or small, they will likely spend a significant portion of the income in our community, providing a demand for labour-hours here. (This is scale-able however, depending on how foreign this persons investment portfolio is, and how often they prefer to shop at foreign (regionally as well) shops and services.)

Therefore, when analyzing a local government service, is it not prudent to deduct labour cost from our equation of its cost structure? Afterall, if we keep cutting all these government services (jobs), how is it that our economy is supposed to pick up with new employment. If wages are the driving job-cost then perhaps we should look to other areas for cost savings.

The only reason we can afford multiple televisions in our homes is because a trans-national corporation has exploited wage advantages in third-world conutries. If we built those televisions here, at our wages (with our healthcare), the average person would need a mortgage for their T.V. (although the national credit card debt indicates that we may already). Therefore, the primary cost driver must be transport. Energy. Fossil fuels. Curiously fuel seems to have abondoned “3%” inflation. Curiously the products that arrive in our communities through fuel aided transport have also risen at a rate far above “inflation”–in our current Western practice of “trading” by shipping inanimate objects incredible distances back and forth across the globe, it is not surprising. The Globe and Mail on Thursday reported that the dramtically escalting food prices of the last couple years seem to have stabalized this year. Somehow the connection was not made that the last 12 months have had relatively stable gas prices as well, largely due to reduced demand as Americans have been running out of money.

The ecomomist Tim Jackson remarks in his TED Talk, “Canadians make cookies for the Danish, and we ship them there, and they make us cookies, and ship them here; would it not be easier to just trade recipies?”. Without even factoring the carbon footprint of all this shipping; the global climate change that is wreaking havoc on ‘industrial agriculture’ and shipping–without even factoring the quality of life realities of driving a transport truck or working in a camp in the Arctic drilling for oil; the sheer cost, ‘investment’, that our western citizens are throwing at the combustion of fossil fuels is incredible.

At some point along the road, it has been perceived as inevitable that we must keep the wheels turning, and the engines running, even if it is at the expense of our jobs, and our government services and the public good.

Lets return to the introduction for the conclusion, local health care, the Interior Health Authority. What costs more than the managers salaries without discounting them as the salaries and money comes back to our community, in some capacity at least?

You guessed it! Fuel! Fuel; For the ambulances, the medivacs, the helicopters, the drug shipping, the heating, the cooling, the garbage disposal, the water pumping, the lighting, the sanitation equipment, the computers, the renovations of an inefficient structure, the cars to get everyone to work (1 in each of course), the parkades to store all these cars, to manufacture the vehicles, to manufacture the piping, and the HVAC, the syringes, the X-Rays, the coolers, the freezers, the tile floors, the stainless steel… This list is hardly exhaustive but lengthy enough to be telling I hope. Perhaps the key to keeping jobs in the community, to maintaining government services and investing in the public good lies less in cutting programs, and instead in re-evaluating the fashion in which we construct our cities, and how we conduct our lives–without pointless fossil fuel combustion.

That or we will cut all the programs, and cut all those jobs, and still need to raise taxes to pay for the fuel, and none of the tax payers will be left to pay for it anyways– the market will make the decision for us.

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