Thursday, 5 August 2010
Stockwell Day Dreaming the Numbers
This past Tuesday, August 3, 2010, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day responded to questions about why the Conservative government is going ahead with plans to spend $9 billion on new prisons when recently released statistics on crime show numbers have declined since 1999 and continue to do so. With my mouth opening wider in utter surprise, I read that Mr. Day explained the recent statistics could not be trusted; "unreported" crimes were alarming and the Conservatives intended on proceeding with their "tough-on-crime" policies. He went on to cite a six-year-old Statistics Canada survey which showed a "slight" increase in unreported crime, from 26 % to 28%.
Over the past few days, all of the papers have reported this incident, analysed the stats and followed up with editorials and opinion pieces which lambast Stockwell, his logic and the silliness in going ahead with a plan whose justification is in no way supported by the facts. I quote the editorial from the Toronto Star of Thursday: "The Conservative mantra seems to be: don't let the facts stand in the way of ideology." I like how the Montreal Gazette pointed out that if a criminal act isn't reported, police can't investigate and consequently nobody will be charged and nobody will go to jail. So, what's the point?
The word ideology refers to a set of beliefs or principles, a philosophy about the world. The Conservatives' ideology is that they are going to be "tough-on-crime". As such, they have a plan to invest $9.5 billion dollars in the Canadian prison system. Unfortunately, the release of the latest crime statistics contradicts their idea that Canada is beset by a crime problem which merits enacting such a plan. In other words, the solution, if one is needed, does not fit the problem. What Stockwell and the Conservatives have then done, is to modify the problem to fit the solution. By discounting the current stats, by twisting these 6 year old stats, they can effectively produce the justification for their plans, for their ideology.
I don't know about you, but I'm looking at this song and dance by Stockwell when faced by the legitimate question about how the facts, the statistics do not fit their ideas and I am offended. Why offended? I've read the crime statistics; I'm not blind; I'm not stupid. To have somebody tell me otherwise makes me think that the person in question believes I'm an idiot, that I am gullible, and that I am merely another easily duped member of the electorate. I'm not a goddamned moron and I do not in any way appreciate being treated as one. I am outraged that anybody would attempt to pull such an obvious trick to try and get their way.
In discussing this with my wife, I described my own personal experiences in the business world where I have seen people enacting solutions without understanding the problem. Instead of seeking out more and/or better information, instead of even recognizing that more or better information is even necessary, they go ahead with enacting a solution and later, due to political problems, have to attempt to make the problem fit their solution. Hmmm, reminds me of George W. Bush. Okay, there were no weapons of mass destruction but we had to go into Iraq anyway.
I asked my wife to imagine that Stockwell's wife asked him to fix the toilet. His first step is to go to his toolbox and get a Phillips screwdriver. He hasn't yet looked at the toilet; he has no idea what the problem is and yet, he has already armed himself with a Phillips screwdriver. Once he does look at the toilet; he then has to figure out how to fix it using a Phillips screwdriver. Crazy you say? I've seen this idiocy going on in the business world and Stockwell's performance was classic make-problem-fit-solution political let's-save-face.
However, my wife reminded me that the blindness of ideology goes even further and on a grander scale. Her example was that the right-wing Conservatives are fundamentalists just like religious fundamentalists: they have a fixed view of the world and they make the world fit their belief system. Yes, we have carbon dating going back tens of thousands of years; yes, we have found dinosaurs going back hundreds of millions of years; yes, scientists estimate the age of our planet at 6 billion years but the fundamentalists believe their interpretation of Bible and set the beginning of life at approximately 6,000 years ago. They discount all other evidence.
The only reason the Conservatives have any power is because the liberals are in disarray and the other parties are too small. I am reminded that the Conservatives' minority is an indicator that they are not the desired choice; they are not the best choice; they are merely the choice which seems to be at the moment "less bad" than the other choices. Not a ringing endorsement I'd say.
I have never been enchanted with Mr. Harper and his policies. I am now getting angry at his continued course of action in contradiction to the facts. Many have compared Harper to George W. Bush as a right-wing Conservative and more and more I see this blind adherence to an ideology when there are no weapons of mass destruction. Just how dumb is it to hear Stockwell Day dismiss the crime statistics which clearly show crime going down then turn around and use stats to support his case? And all this on top of the Conservatives wanting to scrap the long form census? Just what the heck is going on in the minds of these people? I see so many red flags going up; I hear so many alarm bells ringing that every Canadian should be writing to Ottawa to bring these people to task. Where will this stop?
The purchase of new fighter jets
The Tories are planning on spending upwards of $16 billion to purchase 65 new fighter jets without a single competing bid. Marc Garneau - yes, that Garneau - is critical of the Conservatives and this plan. In a nutshell, the Conservatives have a solution but have done little or nothing to properly examine the problem.
National Post: Marc Garneau: How much are the planes really worth?
The Conservatives cut the GST by 1% on July 1, 2006 then another 1% on January 1, 2008. This "bid" to stimulate the economy was thought to be unnecessary as Canada's economy was already growing at a rate of 3% at that time. Of course, the Liberals were against this claiming the GST would keep the nation's finances in balance and pay for social programs.
In 2009, Canada was in the worst recession since the 30's. Stimulus spending left our country with a deficit of over $50 billion. Harper's cuts of 2% in the GST translated into a loss of $10 billion in revenue in 2009. In other words, our deficit was only $40 billion but made worse by a lack of GST income.
The Conservatives are basically against day care. Their ideology comes back to the idea of the woman staying at home to take care of the kids. In today's modern world with its economic problems, a 2 income family has become something of a norm. By failing to support day care, the government is effectively depriving the Canadian workforce of women who want to work and making life more difficult for families who are obliged to have 2 incomes to survive.
Now let me get this straight: you are going to make the census voluntary then spend money to promote it so people will want to fill it out. What!?!
Now let me get this straight: it is not necessary to have census data. Okay, so how do we plan? How many schools will we need? How many roads? What will the load be on our electrical system in the next 5 years and how to increase capacity to support it? What are the potential demographics concerning CPP and what support for this pension system do we need to avoid seeing the system go bankrupt with an aging population? Oops! I no longer know anything about an aging population!
G8 and G20
A billion dollars? Holy c**p!
Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Stephen Harper's got to go!
Some of this may seem flippant but in all seriousness, I believe we have a major problem on our hands. Being a leader is no easy task and leading a country is by no means a walk in the park. Nevertheless, I am seeing more and more how things don't seem to be adding up; that the government is making decisions which are not matched by the facts; that the decision making process itself is flawed. Unfortunately, I also see that most of us are so caught up in our own lives, in our own day-to-day activities, we may not be at all aware of what's going on in Ottawa and the decisions being made there which may have a huge impact on our lives.
Stand up! Look around! Investigate! Get aware! This is your country; this is your government. We are all in this together; let's make sure we all agree on how to do things.
National Post: Marc Garneau: How much are the planes really worth?
CBC, June 22, 2009: Ottawa's GST cut hiked deficit by as much as $10B
The Census: For and against
My coverage of the OMG-20: photos, videos and day-by-day reports
Google Search: "hey hey ho ho stephen harper's got to go"