Democracy as stimulus


Canadian Press explains why our fragile recovery depends on a fall election.

Just think of it as a $280-million stimulus package…

Peter Dungan, an economist at the University of Toronto, says the expense amounts to a “drop in a bucket” when set against the national economy. It is, however, targeted, timely and spread locally. “It’s pretty clear that election expenses don’t get spent on imports,” said Dungan. “At least it is localized.”

A look through individual candidates’ 2008 receipts – available by appointment at Elections Canada – reveals the flurry of local largesse: pizza shops, printing houses, bus companies, computer stores, community newspapers, flower shops and a host of other suppliers all cashed in. Elections Canada also hires thousands of temporary workers, Dungan notes, which could prove timely in this autumn of rising unemployment.

“You might say there are more creative ways of doing that, but it does stimulate the economy,” said the professor. “The idea that it’s a complete waste is not true.”


Democracy as stimulus

  1. Think of all the newspapers who would be relieved to get a shot in the arm by way of political ads…

    • Perhaps we should consider removing the campaign spending limit to help them out.

  2. Not to mention that with another round of "in and out" you could double the amount of economic activity.

  3. $280-million are the administrative expenses alone.

    Add in the party and candidate expenses, their media buys, the planes and buses, the costs to media to cover the campaign… man, we should have these election things every year, and three times in recessions!

    • Or at least 4 in every 5 years… :)

  4. I bet the Canadian Press wasn't nearly so enthusiastic about elections when Martin was PM.

    • We weren't in a recession then.

  5. I say we have elections every three months. In fact, let's extend it worldwide.

  6. Now I don't why we can't have an election. But if we do go to the polls, only to get another Tory minority government, won't that be the equivalent of hiring workers to dig a big hole, only to fill it in again once they're finished? Wouldn't that be classified as one of the bad stimulus projects that don't lead to a more productive society…er..government?

  7. now i don't (see) why…

  8. I just saw the Iggy Engish ad. Upbeat but but nothing substantive. We'll have to see what comes next. 6/10.

    Shortly after the Conservative counter-ad appeared. It was the recycled 'Iggy is just a visitor' theme from this spring. How original. 2/10 and I'm being generous.

    Not sure which one was more stimulating but I'm leaning towards the original and upbeat Iggy ad vs the stale and recycled CON ad from the spring. I'm surprised the CONservative war room is out of ideas before the campaign has even started. What were they doing all summer long?

    • Repeating the same argument ad-infinitum?

  9. This is one of the dumbest suggestions ever. To think that our economy is stronger when we run around marking X's on ballots, is ridiculous, this is one of the most egregious examples of the broken window fallacy every.

    Whether or not we should have another election, and whether one government or another is benficial for the economy, those may be legitimate questions, but to suggest that the election itself provides economic benefit is nuts.

    • Not really. Even temporary employment gets money out into the hands of people where it can start to circulate around in the economy again.

      I'm not going to argue that it provides a *lot* of economic benefit — especially when compared to improving infrastructure, skill training, post-secondary funding, or research grants — but I don't think it's "nuts" to say that it provides economic benefit. The relevant question is "how much?"

    • It's not really an argument that an election makes the economy *stronger* its moreso an argument that election spending is not wasted (never mind the necessity of elections to maintain democracy).

      During my days as a student, and in my post graduation underemployed days, the money I made working Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections kept me afloat at times. It is by no means a solution to recession, but the money can make a difference at the individual level.

    • scf is exactly right. An election may be a necessary expense, part of the cost of doing democratic business, and therefore entirely meritorious. But as an argument for economic stimulus? Sucking money from the wealth of the future (since we all seem to need reminding we don't HAVE 280-300 million to spare at the moment) to quite likely arrive at exactly where we were before: That's digging holes in order to fill them. That's broken windows in a nutshell.

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