Mr. Fox is President of the St. Lawrence Corporation, Ltd. This article is taken from his annual report to shareholders in
Bureaucracy is by no means limited to
In the ten years since 1948 the number of people on the
Through the last twenty years, in peace or war, good times or bad,
The 400,000 compares with some 60,000 workers in 125 pulp and paper mills across the country, and pulp and paper is
And the 400,000 is by no means the full story; it represents only the ordinary departments of government.¹
Our multiplied and multiplying bureaucracy in
If we in the Western world ever succumb to aggression, economic or military, it will not be due to the aggressor; it will be from our own debilitation. When we surrender self-reliance to leaning on government paternalism we are like a man who leaves his legs idle in favor of crutches that he does not need. He will end by having no muscle. We can end by getting too flabby to work hard or to fight.
To see what has happened to us, we need to look back thirty years or so. The doctrine of the Welfare State in
Since then we have had a continuing performance by all political parties, federal and provincial, in trying to nut-do each other by offering larger and larger doses of Sugar Daddy benevolence as a striving to stay in office or to get there. In this technique of beguiling voters with their own tax money we have never had more notable examples than in 1957 and 1958.
The Handout Habit
After thirty years of accelerating welfarism, what has been the effect? We had a public example last month in the
But I do not single out the western farmer; there has been a great loss of self-reliance amongst all of us. Dependence on government now pervades our thinking. With individual industries,2 labor bodies, cultural groups, and institutions of every kind it has become a habit to look to governments for allowances, subsidies, bonuses, benefits, grants, bounties, subventions, and all the other fancy words that mean handout.
Despite oppressive taxes and shrinking dollar value we still try to fool ourselves that the handouts are something-for-nothing and our newspapers unfortunately abet the delusion by their careless habit of saying that "the government will pay." It should be painfully plain that a government can pay for nothing; only the taxpayers pay.
Within relatively few years, welfarism has changed our ideas of how to get ahead in life. In place of hard work and the seeking of opportunity we now look for security and leisure without wanting to earn them. And leisure today is seldom put to use; often it means nothing better than squatting over television’s endless stupefaction.
Paying for Promises
During the last war there was a slogan about choosing between guns and butter; it was like the challenge of "blood, toil, tears, and sweat." We now have to match ourselves against hard tough peoples who know nothing of security and leisure. But we are being led, and are acting, as though we can muster all the guns we may want and still indulge in the unlimited butter and soothing-syrup that welfarism promises to hand out.
Indulgence is the essence of the Welfare State even when, as now, it means putting taxes higher in the face of pledges to make them lower. Political welfarism has no place for the ordinary household and business practice of cutting expenditure to stay inside income.
Politicians still bet on voters being foolish enough to think that welfarism means something f or-free, that higher taxes and bigger spending don’t matter as long as the handouts keep coming. And the politicians still seem right about some people, for there are some who try to think that a government is coping with inflation when it taxes more even though it shows no attempt to spend less.
We do almost anything to avoid straight thinking about what’s happening to us. We don’t even talk plainly about business any more. We now use the bureaucrat’s jargon about economic climate and segments and sectors of the economy when we’re only trying to say how things are going.
Some Reasons and Convictions
Now these are disagreeable matters to talk about. You may wonder why I do, and at a meeting of company shareholders. I have four reasons I would like to mention, and here they are.
1. The spreading of the Welfare State, with its offspring of bureaucracy and inflation, is a deadly course for this country as it is for any country. It enervates our character as a people and is a cruel hoax upon those it is supposed to benefit the most. As earnings and savings dwindle in real value, those to suffer most are bound to be the people of smallest means.
2. We cannot look to politicians or any political party to halt the spreading of indiscriminate welfarism. The aim of politicians is to win elections. They tell themselves that the people ask for welfarism; that it will continue to catch votes. Therefore, whetherthey think it good or bad, political party strategists will go on offering more and more of it until the people themselves stop them. In over thirty years we have had no sign of statesmanship in
3. Since we cannot hope for it in politicians, leadership will have to come from the people and from a free press determined to serve the country’s interest rather than the election hopes of any political party. The Canadian people and the press can halt welfarism by turning against it; by making politicians see that it will lose votes, not catch them.
4. Every person who is opposed to unrestricted welfarism thus has a public duty to say so, and there is no place where the subject does not belong: in homes, churches, social groups, business. Every one of us has freedom and perhaps survival at stake in calling a halt to the fatal combination of welfarism-bureaucracy-inflation. To sit back and not bother means to lose by default.
It is with these convictions that I’ve taken our meeting today as an opportunity to say what I have said. If you have similar convictions, I hope you also will find opportunities to declare them. We should all do our best to stand up for what we believe in.
1Ottawa figures do not include armed services, government agencies, or crown corporations such as CBC. (In 1958 CBC alone had 6,300 employees and took $41 million out of taxes for its capital costs and operating deficit.) Provincial and municipal estimates are based on various authentic sources and are also for ordinary departments; they do not include school teachers or municipal police and fire forces.
2Pulp and paper is one industry that has never asked for or taken a government handout. Even in the 1930′s with half our newsprint mills operating in bankruptcy the industry made its own way, against world competition, without seeking subsidy or favor or charity of any kind.