On the Hill – Everyone’s a Critic

?To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.?

Elbert Hubbard may not have been talking about stimulus spending when he said that, but his words certainly fit these times?especially when it comes to the flurry of opinions criticizing Ottawa’s choices in doling out that $40 billion stimulus package.

One of the latest examples comes courtesy of a Globe and Mail article. The lead, which notes that Harper’s stimulus package will ?end up? giving money to the Calgary Stampede, has a pursed-lips tone of disapproval; the kind you might get from a parent after you spend your allowance on something frivolous, not to mention unsavoury.

(Applications for the new $100-million program are still open, but the Stampede isn’t alone in seeking funding. Upcoming approvals are expected for 10 festivals, including the Shaw Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, and Montreal Jazz festival, among other prominent events.)

Message boards at the Globe (and elsewhere) lit up. It’s ridiculous, charge the critics. The Calgary Stampede is a highly successful organization; they don’t need the money. Besides, why not spend it on long-term initiatives helping all those Canadians who’ve lost their jobs in, say, manufacturing, instead of pouring taxpayer money into a 10-day festival?

Honest opinions, but if we subscribe to the notion of sprinkling a healthy measure of doubt on them, It’s easy to see how such fiscal decisions are anything but simple, especially in times like these.

don’t give money where it isn’t needed, says one camp. Use it to save jobs by bailing out companies that are failing.

don’t reward failure, says another crowd. If corporations are broke because of poor planning or bad management, why should our tax dollars prop up their mistakes? Put the money into creating new jobs elsewhere.

The decisions also have to go beyond the immediate, and the Stampede is a good example. Investing the stimulus package in organizations that are financially healthy could actually be seen as a smart investment. If an outfit can float through this upheaval with their heads safely above water, there’s a better chance that taxpayers will see a return on their investment when times are good?smarter than losing money by prolonging the demise of a company That’s no longer truly viable.

Then there’s the issue of speed. Spend it fast, some say, using words like ?injection? to convey the image of a life-saving procedure. No, no, no, says the opposition. Ottawa needs to slow down, take its time, make sure It’s weighing all the options.

With the clock ticking and $40 billion in extra funding up for grabs, Ottawa is bound to make mistakes. But I’m betting that even the harshest critics would prefer that over the alternative: watching our elected leaders sit back and ?do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.?

%d bloggers like this: