Friday, October 21, 2005

The manifesto and me, Part I

With demographic decline and global competition threatening our future, Québec cannot allow itself to be the republic of the status quo.

Gosh, sounds serious. Go on...

What goals should Quebeckers pursue in the decades ahead? The same ones they always have: 1. Québec must continue to develop economically and socially in order to ensure the well-being of its citizens. 2. Québec must remain a distinct society, a beacon of the modern French language and culture in North America.

Sure, that works for me.

Given the new context we are facing, these two objectives will be even harder to attain in the next few decades than they were in the past century. The formulas of the past will no longer be adequate.

I get it. The formulas of the past are like acid-wash jeans. Totally last century.

Social discourse in Québec today is dominated by pressure groups of all kinds, including the big unions, which have monopolized the label “progressive” to better resist any changes imposed by the new order.

Uh-oh...

[Quebeckers] work less than other North Americans; they retire earlier, they benefit from more generous social programs; both individually and collectively, their credit cards are maxed out.

Um, your point being?

This is all only human; we all seek the best life possible.

A failing, admittedly...

But we must also be realistic.

Must we?

Since there will be fewer of us in future, we will have to be more productive.

You’re right. Think of all the time we waste sleeping.

In addition to a high-quality workforce, we will need a workplace environment that encourages performance and innovation.

So, the forty-hour work week is like acid-wash jeans...?

Global competition being what it is, it would be suicidal for us to refuse to eliminate the inflexibility that undermines our competitiveness.

Yes. The leading cause of suicide is inflexibility. Ask anyone.

[T]he Québec government could take action in an area that is essential to a prosperous future: massive investments in education and training.

Phew! For a minute there, I thought you were pushing a corporate agenda. C’mon, high five!

[A] clear-sighted vision and a sense of responsibility will lead to lifting the freeze on tuition fees, a policy that flies in the face of common sense and all studies conducted on the question.

(Sighs.) I had a feeling that’s where you’re were going with this...

Lifting the freeze on tuition fees and should be accompanied by the introduction of a student loan repayment plan that is proportional to income.

Cool, except you left out the part about expanding grants and bursaries, and about the loan repayment program being interest-free.

In the context of the debate we hope to launch, other avenues deserve to be explored, for example, major tax reforms.

You mean increasing taxation of corporations and the wealthy, right?

Countries that invest heavily in social programs generally prefer to tax consumption rather than income. Québec does exactly the opposite. This has the effect of making work less attractive and encourages taxpayers to focus more on their leisure time.

So, leisure time is the problem?! I thought you said it was big unions?

Québec could also consider creating a guaranteed minimum income plan.

(Blinks.) Wait, you don’t actually mean...

This plan would make direct transfers to each citizen and would replace several existing programs for redistributing income, such as low electricity rates and the freeze on tuition fees mentioned above.

...never mind.

Another element that must be eliminated is the unhealthy suspicion of private business that has developed in some sectors.

Funny, I don’t feel sick at all.

For years, people deplored the fact that the Québec economy was run by English-speaking business people; today, French-speaking business people control our economy and they are roundly criticized.

Aww...

We invite all those who realize the urgent need for a transformation to step forward.

The rest of you will be shot. Any questions?

8 comments:

Frank said...

Quebec, please don't give up the 37.5 hour work week. It has been such a joy compared to the 50 hour one back home.

Anonymous said...

Dear Vila,
Thank you for your post--could you please post the name of the sticking piece of dung who wrote this manifesto? I suspect it is by the forerunner of the Parti Quebecois election, just by the tone. Please confirm or deny, so that I might start a smear campaign.

Many thanks. Ada

Anonymous said...

Never mind. that's what the funny blue link is for, oui? -A

Nick said...

I see, so the new plan is "work like Asians, surrender your free time, make universities into training centres for the private sector rather than places of education, and above all, MAKE BABIES." Boy, what a steaming pile. I wouldn't expect anything less from L. Bouchard.

I forgot to wish you a happy T.S.S. one-year anniversary. So, le voila.

xanthium said...

did someone seriously just say "work like Asians"? Far be it for me to be the hippy fascist, but whoever you are, you should be ashamed of yourself.

how you doing vila? drop me a note sometime.
--m

Vila H. said...

xanthium: I think Nick was referring to the "Asian tigers" that are invoked in the manifesto to scare us all into giving up our leisure time. Seriously, it's cool.

xanthium said...

Sorry, I disagree, but then, I never understood Quebec, so I'll leave you all to your business.

Nick said...

Would "produce goods cheaply like in Asia" be better? Indeed, the manifesto makes plenty of explicit references to the effects of the Asian workforce on North American jobs...