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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 13 April 2012

Stephen Harper’s Pompeii: Evidence-Based vs. The Reality-Based Community

-       Carol Goar

- Attributed to Karl Rove

There was the Census.  There's the National Council of Welfare.  It's a long list, really, of institutions that have been gutted or completely eliminated by the Harper government.  They will tell us their focus is on reducing waste, on saving the public money, etc.  They might even believe that, to some degree.

I think it's pretty clear the Harper Conservatives are following the reality-based community model; they don't feel they need facts now that they've got power.  They can make them up as they go along.

It is beyond tragic that at this time in history, when economic, social and ecological challenges and pressures are mounting, we have a government that is turning its back on information.  You know, that thing that fuels the Knowledge Economy.  But then, this government has made it clear they don't believe in the value of knowledge - who needs to think when you have natural resources to exploit?

Team Harper thinks they are being clever, that they have it all figured out.  In reality, their policy track is the equivalent of building a city next to an active volcano.  You've got the rich soil for a short-term fix, but the short-sightedness of that view is going to see them, and Canada, burned in the long run.  There are social laws that do not waver, just as there are natural laws that cannot be escaped.  By trying to ignore social and ecological gravity - by trying to play political God - Harper is pulling on a push door.

Information is essential to making wise (informed) choices.  That's why humanity developed science in the first place; think what you might, the need for evidence-based policy to actually overcome our problems will not waver.  If you doubt that, look at witch-burninigs and the stigma around left-handed people, or viewing mercury-as-a-cure and the flat-earth model. 

Poverty is not addressed by ignorning it, hoping competition will somewhow lead to a trickle-down of accumulated wealth.  Competition is about survival and dominance, which comes at the expense of others.

Poverty begets poverty and poor people breed faster than rich people.  The rich people can try to isolate themselves from the poor, but eventually you end up with either a revolution or North Korea, neither a desirable outcome.

You can blame poverty on genetics, but again, that's been tried before.  At the end of the day, we have to face facts - society is dependent on internal functioning.  We move forward together.

There are only so many trips you can make to the natural well before you leave yourself with nothing.  If you care about the next generation, you have to plan, manage your resources and, shockingly, conserve what we have now.  Once again - knowledge and collaboration are essential.

The number one thing Team Harper and all our politicians should be keeping in mind?

Are the Conservatives really that blind to the consequence of their actions, or are they so callous as to want to piss off Canadians against foreigners so that they'll be more likely to vote with their gut for extremist Parties?

This is what Capitalism does in the Global Village - wages don't go up, they trickle down to whoever will take less pay.  In this case it's foreign workers - the same foreign workers that Tim Hudak railed against during the last provincial election.  I can tell you from reactions at many doors, people are just frustrated and angry enough to believe that message.

By encouraging indentured servitude and telling Canadians to take lower-paying jobs or else, the Harper Tories are piling on the kindling.  Tensions are already on the rise in Canada; this is going to make it a hell of a lot worse.  With the dollar rising (thanks partly to Harper's push on Alberta Oil) the cost of living isn't going down - yet Jim Flaherty thinks Canadians should work for less or be left with nothing?  I have images of the Grapes of Wrath in my head.

Those who once had and now find themselves without will look for scapegoats - that's human nature.  The Hard Right politicians and would-bes in this country (Wild Rose, I'm looking at you) will make it clear who they think is the problem - urban, special interest groups, foreigners.  It's wedge politics at its worst and could lead, taken to the most polarizing extremes, to social collapse.

Harper used to wax on about trouble lapping at our shores; now, he's doing a hell of a job to foster them right here at home.

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