Going once, going twice, sold!

Imagine selling your prized assets, even though you use them everyday and they’re a great long-term investment?

Well, that's an idea some conservatives in a Toronto riding think their party should endorse at the Conservative convention later this week: sell “public assets where feasible with the proceeds of the sales being used to pay down government debt."

This is pretty vague, but let’s consider some scenarios under this ill-defined plan.

Does “where feasible” mean that any asset is for sale at any price if someone wants to buy it? Do we sell off the prized buildings and pay rent for their use if someone wants to buy them? What about government assets that produce an income, such as crown corporations and agencies like the Export Development Bank?

Besides, selling off assets for their book value does not reduce net debt at all. That’s because there’s an asset side to public accounts that already counts against net government debt, the most commonly used metric in international comparisons.

Photo: crossroads_foundation. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.