Tough times: Obama inspired, Harper insipid

Maybe Harpo can take a few pointers from Obama on Leadership

The most popular mantra in Washington these days is, "Never miss an opportunity to make use of a crisis."

It's human nature to like old shoes; they may not really fit us that well, but we're used to them and they're kind of cozy and comfortable.

We just don't like change, even when it benefits us.

Any democratic leader who really wants to change things has to wait until a crisis comes along a crisis, moreover, that everyone recognizes as such and so gets scared out of their wits.

This is what President Barack Obama is doing. It's what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just missed the opportunity to do.

True, Obama has the benefit of being brand new and exciting while Harper is, well, a bit of an old shoe.

True, as is even more relevant, Obama has to try to cope with the perfect storm of a crisis.

Here, by contrast, while things are worrying and unemployment is climbing, we're at the edge of a deep pothole rather than of a chasm. Our banking system, which for the time being is the most important part of the economy, may well be the soundest in the world.

Observe, though, how each of these leaders has approached the challenge.
Obama keeps saying that the crisis is real, that things will get worse before they get better, that recovery won't be quick.

Harper, as recently as the end of November, was saying there's no crisis at all, that everything was going so well that no stimulus and so no budget deficit was needed at all.

He's changed his tone substantially in this week's budget. But not radically so.
The government's forecast for what lies ahead of Canada is well over to the rosy side of the scale.

Our economy will shrink by just under 1 per cent this year, it believes, and then forge ahead by 3 per cent in 2010.

The International Monetary Fund, though, as part of its global forecast, has just come up with a much more subdued estimate for Canada: a substantial contraction this year and a small advance of 1.6 per cent next year (since our population is growing, this really is no gain at all).
Such forecasts aren't that important: who the hell really knows? The tone is important, though.

Here are marked cross-border differences:

While Obama is trying to mobilize Americans into making a collective attack on their problems, Harper is trying to manage Canadians.
There, people are part of the solution, or at least so it's hoped. Here, people are a problem to be dealt with: the entire purpose of the budget being not so much to deal with the economy (of course, all that spending has to help) as to achieve the political goal of convincing Canadians that their government is doing its bit for them.

An even wider cross-border difference is that Obama is out to use the rare opportunity created by the public recognition that a crisis exists to make underlying changes that otherwise would be impossible to implement.

Heath-care reform, for example.

Medicaid, or health care for the poor, is to be extended for the first time to those receiving unemployment benefits.

Environmental reform, also. At the same time as he will throw billions at the Big Three automakers, Obama intends to impose far tougher gas mileage regulations.

There's greenery all over his stimulus package.

Then there's education reform, involving what's called a "shower of cash" to everything from child-care centres to university campuses.
In Canada, the provincial premiers would become hysterical if the federal government involved itself in education.

But surely a deal could be done with them to create a new, shared-cost educational expansion program to prepare ourselves for tomorrow's post-crisis economy.
That's the real cross-border difference.

Harper's program will help Canadians temporarily.

The five extra weeks of employment insurance benefits illustrate this perfectly. It will give more money to many who will need it over the next two years. But the program itself will then revert to its present, uninspired form.

The effect is that we'll tumble more gently into the pothole.
But once the crisis is over, and the opportunity for real change is past, we'll still be driving in a clunky old car.
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Cheers.. | Opinion | Tough times: Obama inspired, Harper insipid
Quote: Originally Posted by #juanView Post

You should give credit or use a link for articles copied and pasted from another site.
Cheers.. | Opinion | Tough times: Obama inspired, Harper insipid

It's a "blog", not a thesis
It doesn't matter about the differences in personality and problem solving methods.

It looks like Harper has the bigger package. In the end .....

That is all that matters.
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