Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Eenie, meenie, miney, no.

The government is mailing ballots to begin the process of destroying the Canadian Wheat Board. Fortunately, in their effort to be tricky about it, they may have undone themselves. Or is the point to lose the vote, thereby ridding themselves of another troublesome policy plank? That strategy worked for gay marriage, after all.

The vote, which is a plebiscite (and therefore non-binding), gives farmers three possible recommendations for the future of CWB's role in the barley business. Farmers can elect to keep everything as is, to shut down the CWB's barley business altogether, or to have the CWB continue to operate, but in an open, non-monopsonous, non-monopolous market.

Any farmer who knows anything about their own business knows that the second and third choices are actually the same choice - in an open market, the CWB is castrated into uselessness. The only lever it has is the lever of being the only buyer and seller of Canadian barley. How big an advantage does this situation give Canadian farmers? Big enough that Americans appeal the CWB's existence under NAFTA. Big enough that Canadian farms are able to survive in the face of huge American subsidies (albeit overwhelmingly on corn, but the farmers are the same, even if the crop is not).

Why do I think the Tories might be trying to intentionally lose this one? There was a time when there were two parties on the right in this country, and neither of them fared so well. When you give people two choices that are too similar, that's called vote-splitting. No one knows this better than the Tories. In the meantime, although there's a vocal group who think otherwise, farmers aren't going to ruin a good thing. The open-market thing looks tempting, it might appeal to a sense of fairness, but in the end, farmers know which side their bread is buttered on. They know how the butter got there in the first place. They know who made the bread. They aren't going to screw themselves for the sake of some Fraser Institute free-market experiment.

No comments: