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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why the Left has such a rough time...(part 2)




Three cheers for Canada’s Globe and Mail! One of the best subscriptions, next to Harper’s, I have the pleasure to receive. The Saturday focus section is always a favorite of mine and I am culling these facts from the article entitled Free (market) Agent. This article is about Michael Walker and his impending retirement from the Fraser Institute, a radical Right wing think tank. Some of Walker’s greatest hits include:

-Calculations of ‘tax-freedom day’.
-Privatization of nationalized industry.
-Privatization of the delivery of government services
-Reduction of the overall role of government in the economy
-Reduction of Red Tape
-Measurement of provincial education performance with ‘report cards’
-Measurement of hospital waiting lists
-Measurement of government ‘interference’ to rank ‘economic freedom’ in 127 countries.

Walker’s personal motto: “If it matters, measure it.” Now on the surface, the idea makes a great deal of sense. Econometrics can be valuable tools in gauging how our society doing in general. The downside is that studies like those in the list above readily become “factual ammunition” for the causes of the far Right here in Canada. Statistics are great, but the real magic is in how you present them to the public for their consumption. The Fraser Institute excels at taping the populist sentiments withing the Canadian populace. The econometric statistics are then used to bully, bash and coerce the public and government to a further right of center position.

Who would not like to see Tax-freedom day retreat a couple of months? Who would not like to see a more efficient Government? These contentious topics are presented on high to the public. Unfortunately, or fortunately if media distortion is your game, the topical analysis is presented with only one solution. The solution, of course, is the right-wing prescription for good governance. Backed with figures now! Charts! More importantly with no debate, no dissent and no choice on the issue at hand. Okay, the possibility for debate is there, we do live in a state with democratic tendencies. However the amount of public discussion is small, and dissent is hard to foment. Topping it all off the reports from the Fraser Institute are often mistaken for gospel here in Alberta.

On the bright side Fraser Institute literature is not mandatory reading in the schools...yet.

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