By now you have no doubt heard of the estimated cost of security for the G8/G20 series of meetings to be held in Canada. At CDN $ 1 Billion it literally boggles the mind. And it is likely the best indication that government no longer cares about how they use taxpayer funds.
The last time this meeting occurred in Canada was 1988 and it only cost CDN $ 6 million for security. On an inflation adjusted basis it should cost about CDN $ 10 million to day. So why is it 100 times more? Is the world really that much more dangerous now compared to 1988?. I think not. The IRA wanted Thatcher's head, Ronald Reagan was the target of an assassination attempt and plenty of threats, and there were plenty of terrorist organizations around the world. These are the risks most heads of state have to deal with. Al Qaeda is just a different flavour of the same danger shake.
So we are spending 100 times what we should be for security in a world that is just as dangerous as it always has been. But what is truly disturbing about this set of meetings is that this sum is being spent in a period where most of the G8/G20 countries are running astronomical budget deficits and are accumulating debt levels of disturbing proportions. Lets take a quick look.
The G8/G20 countries are (G8 are the first 8 countries listed): France(-8.4%), United States(-8.8%), United Kingdom(-12.0%), Germany(-5.5%), Japan(-7.8%), Italy(-5.2%), Canada(-4.3%), Russia(-3.9%), Argentina(-2.8%), Australia(-2.9%), Brazil(-1.9%), China(-3.1%), India(-5.5%), Indonesia(-2.1%), Mexico(-1.0%), Saudi Arabia(+4.3%), South Africa(-6.8%), South Korea(-2.1%), Turkey(-4.5%), and European Union(-7.0%). The numbers in brackets represent each country's budget deficit as a percentage of their GDP for 2010.
Looking at the list above it is interesting to note that NOT ONE of the G8 countries is running a budget surplus. What is even more shocking is that with the exception of Canada, the members of the G8 have been accumulating debt at unheard of rates over the past 3 years. Looking at the G20 there is only ONE country running a budget surplus and that is Saudi Arabia. That should not come as a surprise.
So why is it in this time of austerity measures in Europe and financial difficulty in almost every major country that will be attending these meetings that this money is being spent? If I remember correctly the UN Headquarters in New York is specifically set up to deal with meetings like these and has the security and meeting space to do so.
Why is Canada spending over a billion dollars to do the same thing? And because we too are running a budget deficit it means that we are BORROWING the money to put on this show. Each Canadian will be going an extra $31.25 in debt for little or no enduring benefit other than the show our politicians get to put on while at the same time insulating the top politicians from other countries from anything that may be real.
If ever there was a singular indication that politicians have lost their ability to link the money they spend to the people who pay for it this would be it. It does not matter the colour of the stripe on the politician, they have all forgotten it is the hard work of the citizens of their countries that provide the funds they squander without regard to value or future consequence. Venality and arrogance are lethal. Certainly for taxpayers the world over.