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Rick Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Rick Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Rick Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

He is also a columnist for Montreal's outstanding West Island Gazette..

His LCC columns are archived here

Posted 04.23.15

RICK BLUE

Austerity is upon us. But who is to blame?

MONTREAL | The time of austerity is upon us. Why now? Whose fault is it? Well, consider this.

There was a time back in the day when politicians were famous for buying votes. But they would buy them individually. "Hey buddy, here's a fiver, go and vote for (name of local strong man)."

Eventually, this practice fell into disrepute. Apparently the optics were bad.

Then, politicians found they could buy votes another way. They could make promises to segments of the population that translate into money. Like giving us tax breaks, grants, bursaries, welfare cheques, roads, bridges, free education, free health care, and even free festivals.

We never saw them as kickbacks from the taxes they had extorted from us in the first place. They had already convinced us that this was the purpose of what government, to redistribute the wealth.

And because we all seem to agree that the enormous sea of tax money that rolls into government coffers each day does not really belong to anyone. It was all up for grabs.

This illusion has worked so well that it has survived to this day. So who are you going to vote for? The politician who promises you the most largesse.

Eventually, this type of vote-buying outpaced the amounts the governments were taking in. No matter, they learned that they could just run a deficit.

They discovered they could buy our votes with money they didn't even have.

And they learned that they could even claim to have "balanced the budget" when they simply didn't spend more in a year than they did the year before. Even though common sense would tell you that a real budget is only balanced when the debt is paid. But our government learned how to carry debts of trillions of dollars and still claim to be fiscally responsible.

Warnings abounded. There will be a day of reckoning, the critics cried. But the politicians paid no heed. For them, it worked. They got elected and were even able to reward each other by voting themselves enormous salaries, pensions, and other perks without much pushback from the population.

What's not to like? They had found a system and were being well compensated for it.

But now the prophesied day of reckoning has come. Even the government, masters of slight of hand, cannot pretend that it can maintain the debt that has piled up. Especially since so many of its programs and regulations, promised to buy votes based upon concepts like identity, has helped to smother the wealth creation and the free flow of capital.

Perhaps this is the fatal flaw of democracy. Especially in an age when every special interest group that has a historical grudge can create a compelling ideology in a department named after it in a university.

They also teach governments to heed the squeaky wheels and buy votes by spending money on investigations, committees, reports, all creating work for themselves and increasing their size and importance.

Many have been so successful at gaining political clout through self validation that they now brazenly lobby the government to engage in behaviour modification of the entire population.

Our democracy has evolved to the point in which everyone thinks they are entitled to tell everyone else what they should and should not do.

But, to quote Winston Churchill: "It has been said that democracy is the worse form of government except for all the others that have been tried."

So it's not that I expect perfection from our political process. It is a real world business so those who choose it have to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

But I think that at a time like this, a time of austerity, we should try to see our relationship with our government for what it is.

After all, we all helped nurture it into becoming the overspending monster that it has become.

To read Rick Blue's complete column on the West Island Gazette, click here Rick Blue in the West Island Gazette
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