Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Dr. Dawg responds to Andrew Coyne's suggestion about cracking down on advocacy by charities with an entirely reasonable suggestion as to how to allocate our resources:
Given that charities do essential work that the government does not fund—feeding and clothing the poor, defending the environment, offering training to new immigrants, etc., etc.—let the government take over those functions directly rather than indirectly, as arguably it should.

Advocacy, which as already noted enhances the democratic process, could be moved onto the national stage by subsidizing representative advisory groups, such as the recently-disbanded National Council of Welfare and the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
There is only one taxpayer. How my money gets to those in need is not my concern. But the latter do require, and must have, the assistance of the more fortunate: that, too, is part of our social contract. Proposing measures that would in practice simply reduce charitable revenues is inimical to the Canada that most of us believe in.
- Susan Delacourt frames her latest column in terms of frustration with an outbreak of "going forward" as a substitute for meaningful political conversation. But the more important takeaway for anybody interested in actually influencing our ultimate direction looks to be a general principle rather than a single example:
Long ago, someone gave me a simple trick to understanding political rhetoric.

Listen to what a politician is promising to do, and then put a “not” in front of the words. If the opposite is preposterous — ridiculous, even — then you’re not hearing a promise, you’re hearing a platitude. It’s greeting-card politics.

“Focusing on the economy” is one such phrase, for instance, which is just as rampant as “going forward.” If there is anyone in elected office in Canada who is not focusing on the economy, the citizens might well be concerned. Isn’t it part of the job description for politicians?
A real focus on the economy would involve a discussion of choices: raising or cutting taxes, where to cut the budget, which kind of jobs are going to disappear, and which need to be created. Focusing on the economy isn’t a policy or a choice. It’s a platitude unless it’s accompanied by substantial talk of the options.
 - And once one digs past the bare facade of "focus on the economy" which has served as the Cons' leading set of talking points for ages, it's virtually impossible to defend any of their actual choices - such as endangering refugees' health (and potentially public health as well) for the sole purpose of being seen as less welcoming.

- Finally, Terry Milewski reports on the challenge to the 2011 election result in Eglinton Lawrence - where the Cons once again seem to have used their list of outrage-generating hobby horses (in this case voting without proper verification) as an operating manual.

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