(Bill Ryan wrote:-) "From the Populist perspective, governments
rather than borrow from banks or print their own
spending, except in times of emergency like
war where the national survival
is at stake. Hence,
the Populists typically advocated "balanced"
government budgets, as we later saw in the Social
in Alberta and British
Columbia. Governments were to be permitted to
only what they could tax with the consent of the
As Bill correctly notes, both provincial 'Social Credit'
administrations ended up strongly advocating the necessity of a 'balanced
budget'. Which, in the case of BC's first twenty years of BC 'Social
Credit' League government, generally resulted in a yearly 'surplus' of
Provincial revenues over expenditures, and an extremely good 'credit rating' for
BC Government guaranteed debt instruments. Indeed, it became, and remains
to this day, almost a fetish amongst the leadership of the now BC Social Credit
'Party' that budgets must always be balanced
In this, it would seem that there was some divergence from the original
tenets of 'social credit'. For we have Douglas's piece on "The
Fallacy of a Balanced Budget", his letter to Aberhart, as re-produced in
"The Alberta Experiment", admonishing him for committing the Alberta
government to a balanced budget, and other passages where he states that there
is no necessity for a balanced budget where wealth is constantly
I doubt that Douglas was advocating 'fiscal irresponibility', but I think
he could see what having a 'balanced budget' would do BEFORE the Social Credit
financial proposals were in place. Those who were in control of the BC
Social Credit government couldn't.
For most of the first twenty years of their administration the on-going
post-war 'boom' saved their bacon. BC could produce a balanced budget,
year after year, because Provincial government revenues from resource
development and exploitation were growing at a tremendous pace. When that
finally ended, (it gave up its last gasp in the 1981 recession), the call for a
'balanced budget' became very hard to sell politically, and the 'populist'
version of 'Social Credit' as evidenced by the BC Social Credit Party was
cast from office by the electorate. It is truly sad that even yet they
will not re-consider their position on 'balanced budgets' in light of the
original proposals of their adopted name.