Maxed Out 

Pay now... eat later

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For those of you too young and those of you who have already set out on the road to amnesia, Wimpy was a friend of Popeye the Sailor Man... of cartoon fame. I'm fond of Popeye because disguised as a children's cartoon, Popeye was, in fact, a precursor to all the self-help advice that followed. Everything you need to know about life is contained in Popeye's catch phrase - I yam what I yam. Live with it.

Wimpy was large, gluttonous and fond of dining on other peoples' tabs. Addicted to hamburgers long before the golden arches ruined a single generation's tastebuds, Wimpy would implore anyone he thought an easy touch with the line, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Pudge, bearing a passing resemblance to Wimpy, albeit with a helmet of Ken doll hair and a passive expression most often seen in post-lobotomy patients, has turned the tables. He's now offering Canadians hamburgers Tuesday if we pay for them today. Many of his most recent promises of giveaways will kick in when the budget the Conservatives unbalanced is, once again, balanced. My savage breast can verily hear the harmonious strains of Over the Rainbow welling up as background music. It takes an even higher level of cynicism than I possess to believe the Conservatives will ever balance the budget. Whistler will roll back property taxes before the Conservatives ever balance the budget.

Why, you ask? Largely because of the peculiar brand of economics favoured by Conservatives since the days of St. Reagan, Princess Thatcher and Mulroney the Knave. It can be summed up by the Orwellian chant, "Taxes Bad. Government Bad. Markets Good."

More legerdemain than organizing economic principle, it is chanted by Conservatives and parroted by their unthinking supporters in much the same way as the mindless, but mesmerizing, chants at sports events. "CA-NA-DA, CA-NA-DA. U-S-A, U-S-A." It has so powerful a hold that True Believers seem unable or unwilling to notice under conservative rule overall taxation goes up, government gets bigger and more oppressive and markets pretty much destroy the middle class while they merrily chant their way to poverty.

North of the border, the strategy still works. Why? Because of the Liberal Sponsorship SCANDAL!!! Regardless of how insignificant, Liberals can't shake scandal. If you want to start a good barfight, walk into pretty much any watering hole in Calgary, clear your throat, and loudly say, "Boy, that National Energy Program Pierre launched in 1980 sure was a good idea." Rednecks and oilmen who weren't even born in 1980 will be throwin' blows before you can say, "Just kidding."

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