Public Values

Mantra of fiscal conservatism new phenomenon

Rather than reduce government programs during recession, we used to increase them.

John Stapletonby John Stapleton, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

I have started hearing it everywhere. Strangely, I am hearing it most from advocates and activists. They are cheering small increases to social assistance and modest increases to comfort allowances for seniors. At the same time, they talk in hushed tones of a looming recession and an expectation of a reduced anti-poverty agenda. All on their own, they are scaling down their expectations for reform and their wish lists from governments.

On the other side of the street, free marketers are telling us that "the party's over"; the easy years of fat surpluses are done. We're tapped out. Get ready for some serious belt-tightening. Never mind that it was always their party. The important part to understand is that it's over.

Bankers are nervous. Editorial boards are apprehensive. Politicians are 'talking down' new initiatives. Everyone is starting to feel the heat. When the US catches cold, Canada gets pneumonia. Get ready!

So what is this all about? I call it the 'Last Recession Spook' that is now taking hold of people expecting another downturnÂ…

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.

John Stapleton is a Toronto-based social policy analyst currently working with St. Christopher House and the Metcalf Foundation while performing teaching and research roles with the Maytree and Atkinson Foundations.

Links and sources
  Report: The 'Last Recession Spook': a very curable disease, by John Stapleton, April 2008.
  CCPA website

Posted: April 07, 2008

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