In Quebec, the Parti Québécois (PQ, the separatist party) is the epitome of economic ignorance. When they are in power, they create social programs that become entitlement (i.e. almost impossible to reform). When they are in the opposition as is the case right now, they keep defending inefficient government policies.

Their latest rant: the Liberal government can’t promise that regional music conservatories will remain opened. Culture critic Véronique Hivon believes this is madness since conservatories are the heart and soul of regional cultural development. Therefore the government needs to step in and protect the province’s cultural development.

Or, in other words: Nothing can happen without government. Ms. Hivon’s complaints are a copy/past rendition of Frédéric Bastiat’s “That Which Is Seen, That Which Is Unseen.”

To start with, as I always say, what needs government to survive deserves to die. If people can’t put the money where their mouth is, then they don’t need conservatories. Oh, we do “see” that artists in remote regions (outside Quebec City and Montreal) develop their talents and animate the cultural life of the said regions. But we “don’t see” how the money forcibly taken from people elsewhere would have been used for. It may or may not have been used for the conservatories, and that’s of little importance. It’s not the government’s job to decide how money is spent.

Furthermore, it’s not the government’s job to “protect” cultural development, especially not with regulations keeping away “foreign” culture. Indeed, Quebec radios have to air 60 percent French content during daytime (6 a.m. to midnight). And yet, popular pop and rock radio stations’ top-10 (as voted by listeners) have mostly English music… Artists that have lasted the longest like Céline Dion, even if they did receive grants, were able to because they supplied a demand. To my eyes, many Quebec artists are there merely because they have an assured source or revenues not affect by supply and demand.

Finally, Ms. Hivon repeats, almost word for word, Bastiat’s debunking of statist argument: “If you don’t want government doing it, you hate it.” Not, that’s not true. I love music and discovering new talents; I just want to do it using the money I want to spend. Great writers like Gabrielle Roy and Lucy Maud Montgomery all started their careers without public money and are still talked about today. That’s because they believed in their art and put all their energy to it without waiting for easy money to come by.

In short, I do hope that publicly-funded music conservatories will shut down if private donors can’t maintain it. If no one wants to pay for it, so be it. That way, the money saved from stopping the grants could be returned to taxpayers, although I’m not holding my breath over that…