The famous marshmallow experiment at Stanford University studied the lives of children who were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately, or two marshmallows if they could wait for 15 minutes.
The children who could wait tended to do better in life, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment and even body mass index.
The lesson of delayed gratification is one that the new Ford government should keep in mind going into its first budget on April 11. The previous Liberal government’s failure to learn to put the long-term ahead of the short-term resulted in the province’s $13.5 billion deficit and $324 billion provincial debt.
Former premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged that a balanced budget is important, but faked her way to balance by moving much of the province’s spending off-books. Meanwhile, interest charges on the debt grew to $12 billion while the total provincial debt more than tripled under the Wynne-McGuinty governments.
This debt was the result of gratuitous spending on promises designed for immediate gratification at the polls including the $1.1 billion gas plant that was cancelled for partisan advantage.
Obviously, it is outrageous for the government to waste more than a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money in an effort to save a few seats. But let’s look beyond the outrage to the cold hard numbers. That wasted billion dollars ultimately went on the province’s credit card, leaving Ontario paying about $25 million every year just to cover the interest charges on that specific boondoggle.
When the government’s piggy bank is emptied for short-term political spending, the government has less to work with when more important priorities come up.
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