To critics of his penchant for showering hundreds of millions of dollars on the big three auto makers, Dalton McGuinty always had an answer: but I created jobs. It wasn’t a good answer: the jobs created were merely the ones he could see, whereas the jobs destroyed by the same handouts — for the investment diverted into autos is only investment diverted out of other industries, and paid for with their taxes — were spread across the economy, and as such invisible. But it was an answer.
So what is McGuinty’s answer, now that the predictable has happened, and the auto makers are cutting jobs, having massively overbuilt in part thanks to McGuinty-style subsidies? Not only does he have no regrets — he’d do it again. (An offer the auto makers are only too willing to take him up on.)
Understand: even by his own chosen measure — simply counting the jobs he can see in front of his nose, and to hell with opportunity costs — the subsidies were a flop. And still they continue.

CODA: Boy, I can hardly wait to see what the opposition leader makes of this. Surely he’ll pounce on McGuinty’s obstinate refusal to learn from his mistakes, to say nothing of his utter ignorance of economics. Surely he’ll use this as a teaching moment to make the case against such crude corporate welfarism. But no, the “Conservative” leader favours the same policy, and on the same rationale.

ANUDDACODA: Just how successful has McGuinty’s “pragmatism” been? Count backwards with us now:

The McGuinty government has given $400 million to the Big Three automakers — and those companies have cut 10,000 jobs in this province.
GM was given $235 million to retain 900 jobs; Ford got $100 million to retain 4,000 jobs and Chrysler got $76.8 million to retain 5,200 jobs under the Liberals’ 2004 automotive investment strategy.
Meanwhile, GM slashed 5,500 jobs, Ford laid off 2,700 and Chrysler cut another 2,000. Under the strategy, GM had committed to keep 16,000 jobs in the province and now has 14,850…

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.