Imagine for a moment two societies living side by side. One has discovered and uses the wheel effectively -- a technology that makes life easier for workers and boosts the economy for everyone. Prosperity reigns. The society next door is well aware of the wheel and watches as its neighbours move inexorably ahead -- wealthier, more efficient, healthier and with more leisure time for cultural activities. But it is not those who do the work in this society who reject the wheel -- it is the governing elite, the priests, the official advisers and scribes who have incorporated a moral objection to the wheel into the state religion. Use of the wheel is thus proscribed by faith, not reason. All practical arguments in its favour are rendered useless.
Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It's an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada -- which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.
Certainly, it's the kind of big idea that powerful interests here are keen to keep off the radar as Ottawa finds itself flush with surplus cash -- $6 billion next year, with bigger surpluses expected in future years.