Saturday, 29 August 2009

Bill Kennedy: Unintended consequences

Bill Kennedy: Unintended consequences
Signal - Originally, the area was populated by Inuit, native North Americans often mistakenly referred to as Eskimos. Then, in the 1950s, hundreds of US and
Canadian ...

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Posted: Aug. 27, 2009  9:24 p.m.
POSTED  Aug. 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Frobisher Bay, Canada, just south of the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island, November 1982: My wife and I were standing on hard-packed snow in frigid weather beside the aircraft that had just deposited our party of some 50 international delegates sent to get a view of the unintended consequences of socialism run amok.

The relative isolation and small size of this community of 1,000 native North Americans made it an ideal subject of social studies for our group.

Originally, the area was populated by Inuit, native North Americans often mistakenly referred to as Eskimos. Then, in the 1950s, hundreds of U.S. and Canadian military personnel and construction workers descended on the area to build the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line, a system of radar stations designed during the Cold War to protect North America from a surprise attack by Soviet bombers.

Initially, the project created many high-paying local jobs. Additionally, the medical-services facilities established there to serve the U.S. and Canadian forces were opened to the locals for free as a gesture of community outreach.

But the benefits were short-lived. By 1959, construction was essentially complete, reducing job opportunities, and by 1963, the U.S. military left, closing the medical facilities. To fill the gap, the Canadian government established permanent services at Frobisher Bay, including full-time doctors, schools and social services, and encouraged the nearby Inuit population to settle using the free government services.

The usual habitats of the Inuit were chosen for their proximity to fishing and hunting grounds.

However, easy access to such areas was not afforded from the government locales. The Canadian Parliament's remedy was give each able-bodied Inuit male a snowmobile to assist their hunts. The government also awarded them hunting rifles and ammunition to replace their traditional spears.

In another move, the Canadian Parliament entitled every adult male to a free case of Canadian ale each month for life. Finally, the government granted a free college education to any Inuit capable of passing an entrance examination.

The justification was that the Inuit who completed their college degrees would return to Frobisher to establish their own health clinics, job-forming businesses, schools and the like.

This is the background that greeted our delegation in 1982, there to examine the effects of a generation of well-intentioned socialist policies...."


Something to think about when considering the many socialist programs proposed by our current administration. Although the circumstances of our needs and the Inuit are fundamentally different, the lesson of their experience is constructive: The architects of their social programs failed to realize that it is the unlimited reach of the human spirit that makes a culture sustainable and an economy viable, and excessive government handouts serve only to squash the human spirit while piling up massive debt.

That is why I am proud to be a member of the Republican party, which places a premium on human enterprise over government interference. We don't need more government handouts. We need programs designed to give more freedom for individual ingenuity and the human spirit to soar.

Bill Kennedy lives in Valencia and is a principal in Wingspan Business Consulting. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. ..."

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