On Fiscal Restraint and Pope John Paul II

A blessed and joyous Easter to all our readers! Christus surrexit vere, alleluia! I will have an article soon on the resurrection, but first, and in contrast to the joy of this octave of Sundays, to the continuing saga of the sad state of our government:

At least one Liberal MPP, a certain smiling, happy and comfortable Bob Delaney, is blissfully unabashedly unrepentant over the crushing provincial debt load, which his governing party just increased dramatically in the recent budget.

One wonders at what point sanity might prevail. Like a gambler on tilt, careening out of control, such may only happen when the crash does, that is, when reality, full-bore, hits Mr. Delaney between the eyes. Of course, before such a calamitous event occurs, he has a lot to smile about: A salary of over $116,000, with full benefits, a very generous expense package, before a retirement still well within his productive years, with full pension, and there are untold thousands, myriads even, like him on the unending payroll.

Ontario has more debt than California (which has a significantly larger economy), and individual Canadians, as might be expected, are following suit. According to one source, the Canadians have an average of $2,627 credit card debt, a consumer debt (that is non-mortgage) of $20,967, while an overall household debt, including their over-valued mortgages, of 163% of their disposable income. Whatever the accuracy of these numbers, they signify something deeply troubling.

By any consideration, this is not fiscally prudent, and I am here trying to restrain my tendency to Irish hyperbolism, which in this case might fully apply.

Those of you who strive to practise some degree fiscal restraint, besides the intrinsic value of such for our own conscience (in the immortal words of Stan Rogers, that government dole will rot your soul), are in the economic sense being taken for a ride, since the rest of the province and country are driving us to insolvency even against our will, with the whole shaky house of cards ready to topple.

Yet, the blissful ignorance continues.  As one prospective voter on the CBC this morning declared, universal day-care is a sure vote buyer for him, for with this dangling carrot, he will, as he confesses, vote Liberal. Such are the mercantile and meretricious policies of Ms. Wynne and company.

On a more hopeful note, today is the 13th anniversary (yes, I know, tempus fugit, memento mori and all that) of the death of Pope John Paul II, who was known for his sanity and fiscal restraint. In fact, he wrote much on socio-economic doctrine, the role of government and individuals in building a healthy and sustainable economy, the need for bureaucratic and fiscal restraint, the necessity of personal virtue and standing on one’s own two feet. I would highly recommend a reading or re-reading of his Centesimus Annus, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Leo XIII’s landmark Rerum Novarum, also worth a re-read (although John Paul has an excellent summary at the beginning of his own document).

Karol Wojtyla grew up in a frugal and disciplined milieu, knowing the value of hard work and what ‘wealth’ really means, and how difficult it is to make an actual dollar.  He refined his well-earned life lessons with deep prayer and intellectual formation and insight. There is much that could be summarized from his rich and inexhaustible teaching, but here’s a message for today that, who knows, maybe some MPP might even read: Live within your means; focus more on being rather than having, on quality over quantity, on what you really need. Strive for a virtuous life, in which both we, and the society in which we live, may flourish.

As it is, we are floundering, and as part of the solution, we should fix and maintain our own house, financial and otherwise, even if such seems quixotic. For we will be judged not on the economy’s works, but on our own.