What Justin Needs to Do to Restore the Middle Class

Canadian economic historian Harold Innis wrote about “staple resources” in the Canadian economy. Goods like the beaver, or lumber that acted as a mechanism which fostered industrialization and a middle-class Canadian economy.

Of course, I’m generalizing a lot of his work here, but, in a nutshell, “staple resources” are extracted, sold abroad, and in return Canadians receive goods from other countries, all the while putting people to work.

This is where cannabis and hemp come in. Although technically the same plant, hemp has more industrial uses. Canada’s current hemp industry is already asking the government for looser rules around growing.

If Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party is serious about restoring the middle class, they should recall the origins of the word “liberal” — advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and the press, and international peace based on free trade.

A classical liberal understands the necessity of the entrepreneurial spirit. When state restrictions become too burdensome, the entrepreneur is left poorer, and the rest of society suffers as a result.

Absent government rules and regulation, anyone could be a farm-entrepreneur. They could grow food in a local garden, add capital value to it, and sell the end product at local grocers or restaurants.

But bureaucracies restrict food-stuffs in the name of quality control or “public health and safety” because people apparently aren’t smart enough to provide this service for themselves.

Quality control is a type of self-regulation that free, individual human beings already possess.

It’s why some people like to know that their food or cannabis comes from local, mostly organic, farmers. It’s why entrepreneurs have an incentive not to poison or defraud their customers.

It’s why a professional extraction crew would never blow themselves up.

If what bureaucrats say is true, how did humanity ever advance beyond the stone-age without the good faith of civil servants telling us what to do?

Quality control over goods and services is a service itself that would benefit from an injection of market entrepreneurs and a pull-back of the state’s bureaucracy.

And, in an age of crowd-funding on the internet, it’s never been easier for someone to raise the necessary capital for their idea.

But, like the mafia, the government always wants a cut. Don’t they see the disincentive this creates?

There is an incompatibility between what a free society is and one that taxes an individual’s income and private property. Or one that taxes capital gains. Or allows a central bank to enforce price controls over the rates of interest.

Like a parasite that is killing its host, the regulatory apparatus in Canada is sucking the life out of its entrepreneurs and preventing new ones from emerging.

Communities with out-of-date factories, refineries and mills, disappearing family farms and indebted graduates all must find a new niche to stay competitive in this globalized world.

We can’t rely on government jobs because governments, fundamentally, don’t create wealth.

Hemp is a worthy investment, but the entrepreneurial potential behind it is gridlocked by layers of bureaucracy.

Hemp is optimal for paper and cardboard products, clothing and fabrics, plastic and building materials, fuel and nutrition.

And these are just the “staple” resources. Every entrepreneur in the economy has the ability to expand and innovate on these goods to produce more value for consumers.

The key is not having to apply to the government to become an entrepreneur.

That defeats the purpose.

Every time a bureaucracy increases in size and scope, it limits the range of human action and choice.

Society needs laws to prevent and settle conflicts, but governments overstep their bounds when they create rules preventing, or even criminalizing, voluntary, social cooperation.

The B.C. Bud market is a case in point.

There are “staple resources” wherever one looks. For a country that values the environment, health care, employment, education, ending poverty and all around prosperity – it should be a no brainier.

Free the weed, free the market.