SIOBHAN TO BRING NEW ECONOMIC THEORY TO FINANCE

How Andrew Furey let his “funny-bone” get the better of him

Likely
Andrew Furey understood the dearth of talent that comprises the Liberal Caucus
long before last Wednesday’s Cabinet making. Adding to the difficulty Perry Trimper’s indiscretion towards
the Native People required the absolution of another election win, while
the Ph.D toting Scott Reid is far too intelligent to handle matters
Departmental.

It
was wise to clear “the debt is manageable” Tom Osborne from Finance; it was confusing for him to be surrounded by so many zeros.  But who thought that Siobhan Coady’s talents
would be Furey’s rare find?

I
had feared that Andrew might have filled the all-important Finance portfolio
first. Such untimeliness might have resulted in Finance Minister Elvis Loveless,
though this public does not need reminding of his gyrating namesake or that, in
NL, every other day brings the expectation that “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”.

Luckily,
Furey waited until after placing Bragg, Bennett and Loveless. When he was finished
with Coady, he must have felt like Jesus on the seventh day.

Mere
pikers in the game of high finance, prior Finance Ministers – Ross Wiseman to
Tom Osborne – had constructed a “post-Keynesian” order. Keynes’ popularity was
driven by a theory that allowed for economic activity to be levelized; through
government spending in the bad times following which the excessive borrowing would be paid down when things
improved.

In
NL, that approach was completely unacceptable and as a result “post-Keynesianism”
was born – a plan that afforded huge and unstoppable spending – all the time. Problem was, a few people
seemed disturbed by over-indebtedness. Worse, the bond holders still demanded to be paid. Furey
must have had a premonition. Siobhan would bury John Maynard Keynes for good!

Between
surgeries, Fury had had time to understand NL’s fiscal condition. His Senator
father would have counselled the urgency of NL’s case. There would be no time
for notions of “the journey of a thousand days begins with the first
step”. It was too late for that. Dr. Wade Locke could be consulted,  of course, but at what cost?

Besides
Furey’s “funny-bone” had been acting up, as it often did with difficult cases.
He was an orthopedic surgeon, after all! Whatever it was telling him, he just
knew Siobhan Coady would possess the perfect solution. She would make
Newfoundland great again!

Coady
had been a total failure in Natural Resources. She had stood by Dwight Ball as he allowed former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin
to be fired “without cause”, departing
with a rich severance package. Furey recognized, too, that she had not pushed Stan Marshall into a much needed “stop/go” analysis on Muskrat, allowing him to
burn through cash that even in a “post-Keynesian” NL was obscene.

There were other issues with Coady but it
was surely her embrace of Danny Williams’ energy warehouse plan and the piece
de resistance – the decision to allow hundreds of real jobs – including on the
Terra Nova FPSO – to slip through her fingers that clinched the decision. After
that, Furey was certain that she had not a clue about anything,
confirming in the process that she might be the perfect political choice as his
Administration’s economic theoretician.

Andrew
had thought about all of those things as the swaggering Coady made her grand
entrance into his office, offering her hand with the certainty of a Royal
welcome.

Though
his “funny-bone” had the accuracy of a Google search engine, as a surgeon he
still wanted to be sure of his decision, having made it a habit of measuring
twice and cutting only once. Perhaps, he thought, he should give the
“presumptive” Finance Minister a little test.

“Minister”,
he addressed her as she withdrew her Royal hand: “Do you think we can afford
$25 daycare? “I did make the promise in my leadership campaign and I now wonder
if the province can afford such a generous scheme when we are in debt up to our
ears.”

“My
dear Premier”, Siobhan spoke to him softly for emphasis, as she did on the rare
occasion that gravitas overwhelmed conversation. “My dear Premier”,
Siobhan repeated, knowing she was in command, not of Dwight, but of a real
Premier this time. “With the application of my new “Modern Monetary Theory”, coughing a little to give emphasis to her invention, you
will be able offer the peoples not $25 daycare but $5 daycare – or even less”,
she blurted out, leaving Andrew dazed and unsure whether the idea was
brilliantly simple or simply brilliant. 

“Can we, really, Siobhan”, a dubious
looking Premier asked the ever smiling,
not-sure-if-she-is-thinking-about-anything Minister, and most certainly not expecting
John Maynard Keynes to be buried with such quick dispatch? “Of course”, replied
Siobhan, adding: “And that’s not all. Before getting on the elevator, preceding
my arrival to meet my dear Premier to accept my new portfolio, I instructed Tom
Osborne to hire another 70 teachers.” That should keep that bunch of friggers
quiet until after the election, she added under her breath. “And the $3 billion
deficit this year…don’t worry your precious head one little bit, my dear
Premier.”

“But
tell me Siobhan: how does it work….this “Modern Monetary Theory” of yours; it
sounds so exciting. I just have to know more”, he demanded, perhaps a little
too quickly, feeling his newness but still wanting to appear in command.

“It’s
very simple my dear Premier; as you may know I am the simpleton of persons. I have figured out what has long escaped the “post-Keynesians”,
all of them completely stunned I’d say, my dear Premier, including our own…well,
perhaps borrowed from the Tories maybe more accurate… little Tommy Osborne. “But
tell me Siobhan”, Andrew interjected, anxiously, I need to know how it works.”

Siobhan
looked at the Premier with a stare down with which he had only seen from other orthopedic
surgeons and he began to wonder if she wasn’t a case for
the College. Brushing the thought away as Siobhan began to address him, he
listened to the simple theory that would save NL. “What you need to understand,
my dear Premier”, Siobhan continued, “is that it doesn’t matter how much you
borrow as long as you “believe” that its money you will never have to repay.”

Andrew
felt dumbfounded. Medical school had never been this simple. He thought about
her “theory” for a moment and began to feel deliriously happy that he had been
so wise to choose this Minister for Finance.

Leaning
close to Siobhan, Andrew whispered: “let’s just leave daycare at $25.00; we
surely don’t want your ”Modern Monetary Theory” copied by another
irresponsible, fiscally undisciplined, province.

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

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