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Dittmer: New sheriff leans way left

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan in the White House Oval Office, March 11, 2021.

As you’ve heard, there’s a new sheriff in town down here. The political, economic and regulatory direction has been turned 180 degrees overnight. Unfortunately, Canada was one of the very first victims of President Biden’s wrath of the leftists. A sorry occurrence for you and for us.

The only people likely to be happy that day in Canada were the leftist activists who have been blocking your new pipelines to the East and to the West Coast. Even though Prime Minister Trudeau is a leftist in politics, even he complained to Biden about the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. But no one was as fast and vociferous as the fellow running the province of Alberta. Rightly so.

The cancellation may put enough pressure on the provincial and national governments to get the pipeline to the coast through B.C. pushed through. Of course, instead of the oil going to the U.S. — whom I presume you still consider friendly, even though we have given you reasons to doubt that from time to time — the oil will instead go to China and other foreign countries of antithetical or dubious loyalties.

Down here, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich figured the Chinese were “thrilled” with Biden killing the pipeline and placing a hold on leasing and permitting on federal lands. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Russia’s Putin must be “ecstatic.” Those countries want our energy independence reduced and Russia and Iran want a higher oil price.

The union head representing the certified pipeline welders, whose members lost jobs overnight with the stroke of a pen, expressed his long-term fear about the survival of any country that sets out to destroy its supply of energy.

This move puts increased cost pressures on agricultural operations, dampens general economic growth and takes money out of the pockets of beef consumers. We learned during the financial bad times of 2008-09 that the lack of jingle in their jeans after filling up at the gas pump pushed people from fast-casual restaurants and steakhouses to fast-food outlets.

You’ve doubtless heard that 50-70 million Americans believe last fall’s election was not con- ducted on the up-and-up. But beyond that, tens of millions of Americans voted for a big government, higher taxes and increased regulatory atmosphere, which can only hamper business and hurt the economy. We have a lot educating to do of our left-leaning citizens of the last several generations, especially if we are ever to get the opposite kind of policy back in place.

A word of advice, likely that you already know but would not mind being reminded about. Redouble your efforts to see that your kids at all levels of schooling learn that all business is not evil, that everything good does not come from the government, that freedom and responsibility are paramount for the citizens of a nation that hopes to survive and prosper. Canada and the U.S. were key allies in past wars to allow the survival of free nations and free economies. Only strong economies, backed by freedom-loving citizens, can survive long-term.

I haven’t written extensively about it, but academic research on what happened in American schools is a telling story. I have no idea how similar the situation is in Canada. But as you all are thinkers, you might find the website ( and the book The Coddling of the American Mind interesting. My wife and I heard one of the professors give a presentation that was eye-opening but explanatory of the last couple of generations terrified of much, unwilling to debate many issues and certain that only the government is trustworthy.

The attack on oil and gas has so far been by executive order. What about the — somewhat — representative government wings? As you likely know, the Senate is split 50/50, with the Democrat vice- president able to break tie votes on legislation. The previous Senate Majority Leader Mitch McCon- nell and Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer have negotiated some process on moving legislation. Apparently, they assume there will be defections on both sides on certain issues and likely figured how to dance around them. After all, it is much more important that the ruling elite keep things running smoothly to their way of thinking than take care of important business for mere citizens.

For the short-term at least, it appears that they will avoid the critical question of the filibuster. In the U.S. Senate, legislation requires 60 votes to pass. The fear among conservative Republicans was that the Democrats would immediately move to change that Sen- ate rule to only require 51 votes to ram through tons of earthshaking legislation. We’ll see.

For now, down here, it’s more of a muddled political mess than usual.

About the author


Steve Dittmer is the CEO of Agribusiness Freedom Foundation, a non-profit group promoting free market principles throughout the food chain. He can be reached at [email protected]



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