Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Agree to disagree

The Conference Board of Canada has decreed that we are a mediocre nation, devoid of innovation and our economy is and will continue to suffer for it. Many categories are mentioned and we compare to 16 other countries in topics such as healthcare, poverty elimination, environmental action.

The findings of the board are that we hold back on entrepreneurial initiative and we don't graduate enough science and engineering majors. We have too many illiterate adults and not enough is being done to look forward with creative ideas rather then simply reacting to current situations.

I wanted to agree. During a short-term illness several years ago, I wrote to Health Canada on the subject of childhood asthma as it relates to stress-levels in grown adults. My hypothesis is that people who occasionally suffocate regularly as children will have less ability to deal with stress and to calm themselves in difficult situations as adults, leaving them open to other illnesses and prone to drain psychiatric healthcare services. If so, the many children had asthma when I was young, who received the treatment of the day, are now stressed and desperate adults likely to panic in stressful situations. Our main treatments are steroids and bronchiodilators, drugs which when taken feel like speed. Not soothing. There are hundreds of thousands of us who may cost our country lots of money in health dollars. Ditto the current obesity trend that has adults and children suffering from the same diabetes at the same time. I got a letter back that thanked me for my question, but nothing was mentioned in terms of evaluating trends and future planning. I can't help but hope they have these plans on the table but just didn't want to share them with me.

I really wanted to agree. We have a long history of innovation in this country that has been stymied by various factors (arrows anyone?) and I strongly encourage heavy investment in green technologies including such financial incentives as "green rrsps" that the banking industry should offer as a way of investing in green initiative companies and in companies who "go green". It should be massive and it should be tax free.

I wanted to agree.

Then I read the top ten recommendations for alleviating this problem. They are:

1) Focus investments on commercialization.

2) Promote cross-border investment flows.

3) Cut taxes on capital investment.

4) Cut red tape.

5) Set up a cap-and-trade system to put a price on emissions.

6) Recognize immigrants' credentials.

7) Finance a handful of world-class universities.

8) Teach all adults to read well.

9) Fund health promotion.

10) Spend more on social programs for children and poor workers.

I notice a trend. Down near the bottom, psychically positioned as the least important items, are health promotion funding, social programs for kids and adult literacy. The top four are so insanely hypocritical my head spins. We are not missing foreign dollars and the company control and downsizing that comes with it. We do not at all need to focus investments on commercialization, we already have a huge problem getting investments elsewhere but in commercial ventures such as in research and human resources. Cutting red tape is a "simple" solution to anything and may as well be a place marker because they couldn't think of a better list. Cutting capital gains does zero to end the disgusting poverty found in North America and only promotes the idea that voodoo economics, now called Reganomics which never proposed to work in theory and in effect never have worked at all, is a reasonable idea.

Innovation is not lacking in this country, but funding for it is. Art is not lacking in this country, but funding for it is. Women as leaders and innovators in this country are not lacking, but funding and recognition of us is simply unnacceptable.

My innovative idea: don't publish findings or suggestions from the Conference Board of Canada.

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