Over the course of the holiday season the federal finance department subtly published a report stating that Canada could be facing decades of deficits. While the report acknowledges that there is a fair degree of uncertainty in its projections, as is the case with all long-term projections, it is far from being the worse-case scenario that the Government would have us believe it is. The report is in fact a base-line scenario. It describes itself as a broad analysis of the Government’s fiscal position, allowing it to respond to upcoming challenges as well as to protect the long-term sustainability of public finances.
The report refers to a mix of stable and unstable variables, such as demographics, current economic trends, fiscal policy, and so on. Some of these are in the Government’s control and some not. But the report highlights an important fact that seems lost on the Trudeau Government, which is that “economic growth stems from growth in either labour supply or labour productivity – real output per hour worked.”
In other words, wealth is the result of real productive effort, which necessarily requires the use of actual human time and energy of which all of us have only a limited supply. A person’s time and energy is their dominion; they alone have authority to determine how it is to be spent. If a person chooses to spend wealth prior to producing it then, for better or worse, they voluntarily make themselves a servant to their creditor. If, however, a state chooses to spend wealth prior to it being produced; and if the anticipated production of wealth is postponed or does not occur, the state’s debt is coercively transferred to future citizens. In short, productive members of the next generation can be economically enslaved by a previous generation that lived beyond its means.
The Trudeau government would have us believe that the practice of intergenerational debt by generating recurring deficits is not only harmless, but helpful, in that it serves to kick-start the economy. They would have us believe we can spend our way to prosperity. But as the burden of decades of accumulated debt can attest, this is simply not true. There is no long term benefit to this practice; and without a credible plan of returning to zero deficits and repaying borrowed funds, the Trudeau policy of intergenerational debt is nothing less than an assault on our liberty, be it intentional or not.
Liberty describes the state in which man, as ordained by Providence, can wield and fashion the energy of his life without undue hindrance, thereby empowering him to live the full human experience and assign meaning to his existence. For liberty to thrive, certain conditions must be in place. Personal responsibility must be highly regarded; compassion and charity toward the less fortunate must be highly valued; and weaving these things together is that condition which is the greatest societal equalizer of all, the supremacy of the rule of law.
The practice of loading up a fourth and fifth credit card on the premise that it constitutes an investment in our finances is contrary to the principle of personal responsibility, and it unjustly hinders how one can dispense of their time and energy. By spending increasing amounts of wealth before it is produced, the Trudeau Government is forcibly transferring the responsibility of producing that wealth onto those who will not reap its benefits.
Intergenerational debt is intergenerational plundering, and its victims are completely defenceless. It results in coercing future generations into earning the wealth we are spending now. It results in overruling how they would choose to exert the limited time and energy of their own lives. It leads to a form of serfdom, and it is deeply immoral. Considering the wealth and freedom we inherited from our forbearers, paid for with great personal sacrifice and vigorous labour, we owe it to ourselves and to our posterity to do better.
Kevin Richard is a freelance Quebec editorial writer and a Discourse Online contributor.