Friday, December 30, 2005

Mencken was Right!

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken

There are no real, ideologically substantial Canadian politics. Its shades of centralism - all parties now want big government, want to maintain signuficant levels of taxation and rely on the US for defence, economic growth and security. There are no "radical" plans for anything.

So as to keep the populace alarmed, scandal is found in small things. For example, around $150m was "wasted" on a foolhardy campaign to use promotions and publicity to create a spirit of Canada that might keep Quebec in Canada. Most of this money was used corruptly. It shouldnt have happened, we all agree. So we spend $200m finding out what went wrong. We lose more than this daily on social security fraud.

The most recent alarm is over whether or not the Finance Ministry leaked the fact that it intended to take no action on income trusts before a formal annoucement to this effect was made. Smart people would look at the situation - three days before an election call which we all new was coming, a known set of advice to the Minister recommending no action and a complete inability to enact the required legislation all led to a run on income trust stock some 2-3 hours before close of trade on the day the Finance Minister was due to make his announcement (it was also known that he would speak to the press on that day). Ah, say some, making sure we are all alarmed, corruption. Calls for resignation. Panic, Fear.

Not really. Most Canadian's think an income trust is something you wear to keep your money safe when on holiday abroad. They dont especially care. Its not, as of now, important. But to keep fear alive, off we go with rounds of speeches, sound bites and brooh-ha-ha making it seem as if the sky is falling in.

If this doesnt work, expect more about the coming flu pandemic or the threat of the pine beetle or the dangers of a comet hitting the earth. All will start to appear before January 23rd if our politicians can scare us to vote in some other way. Hobgoblins will be the least of our worries.

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