Saturday, June 23, 2012

Power and Stupidity

Yesterday, Dan Gardiner repeated Lord Acton's famous maxim: Power corrupts. But power does more than that, he wrote. It encourages stupidity. The Harper government's omnibus budget bill is a case study in stupidity:

Even among Conservatives, the unprecedentedly sweeping nature of C-38 produced some modest rumblings of discontent.

The government could have responded by making a show of listening to the opposition and Conservative backbenchers, picking a few innocuous amendments, and passing them. Doing that would have cost the government essentially nothing. But it may have softened the complaints a little. And, at a minimum, it would have taken away the inevitable opposition attack line of “They wouldn’t change so much as a comma! They’re treating Parliament like a rubber stamp!”

But they didn’t do that. Instead, they methodically and relentlessly voted down every single one of hundreds of proposed amendments, no matter how modest or reasonable they may be — making themselves look immodest and unreasonable and seeming to confirm that they do, indeed, expect Parliament to rubber stamp legislation.

Strictly from the perspective of the government’s self-interest, this was astonishingly dumb.

The budget bill was a ham-fisted attempt to hide the government's stupidity. But forget, for the moment, what this government does. Consider what it says. The Minister of Immigration calls an Alberta deputy minister "a complete and utter asshole." The Minister of  Environment says that Canadian environmentalists are spreading "misinformation and mischaracterization." He also claims those same environmentalists are laundering foreign money. The Minister of Public Safety says that if you don't side with the government, you side with the child pornographers. And the Prime Minister says that the world needs more austerity.

There's another famous maxim -- this one from Mark Twain:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.


kirbycairo said...

That Mark Twain quote was one of my father's very favorite.

Though power does corrupt as well as make people stupid, this group of buffoons is secretly thinking of an old adaption to the standart quote - to wit -

"Power corrupts, and absolute power's even better!"

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, Kirby. And absolutely frightening.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I expect the Conservatives policies, based on little or no "facts" or reason, will be their downfall eventually.

I see Mulroney is now being consulted to help the Consevatives gain some credibility in Quebec.
This seems to me to be too little to late. If English Canada if offended by their legislation, French Canada will be outraged. It is hard to imagine anything the Conservatives could say to offer any appeal for Quebec. I am waiting for the ideological statments followed by the irrational ad hominem attacks.

Owen Gray said...

What Harper fails to realize, Philip, is that he has permanently alienated Quebecers.

He thinks they're stupid. They're not. They know a fraud when they see and hear one.

Anonymous said...

Harper has alienated millions of Canadians, not only Quebec. Harper has even alienated other country's. Harper's big mouth, has alienated country's, that used to be our friends.

Since Harper's so called majority, Canada has been in a free fall, straight to the bottom of the barrel. Harper even started out, with a $13 billion surplus. Canada is now facing the most huge debt, in the history of our country.

Beijing York said...

Harper hold conservationist groups like Ducks Unlimited to a different standard than environmentalist groups. He actually allows government departments to consult with them. And guess what, they get lots of US aka foreign funding too. See how they also have a US board of directors:

These hunter and angler groups who want to conserve for the sake of their sports were also extremely supportive of scrapping the gun registry.

Anonymous said...

Norm I've lost it with the pack of them and the Alpha has to go, there is plenty around to replace him and let this be a summer of torment/discontent through complaint don't let the pack rest this summer, no vacation for them make them answer to each constituent why they are a Pack of Parliamentary Bullies?

Here is looking at you Stevie the wonder alpha dog:

Harper thinks he’s sharper
But really he’s a barber
With evil thought’s he harbor’s
He wants to shave all we have in common
From our Canada, oh what a nave is he.

Little does he know?
Allot of us are committed
To saving the country
He thinks is dimwitted

And the only dimwit I see is he!
He is leading us into slavery
With his tricky knavery
To his lord and master

Big oil big bad oil
For now we all have to toil
To get the Alberta crude
To the Chinese dude

Huh this is rude
And makes no sense
We have a red prime minister
Who is more than a little sinister?

I am asking him to step down
He’s really looking like a clown
And he’s not a real Calgaryian
Just a bully Toronto Ontarian

Owen Gray said...

Conservatives rail against debt, Anon. But they tend to leave more than they inherited.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Bejiing. As is the case with most of Harper's policies, there are exceptions to the rule.

And the exceptions are the people Harper counts on for support.

Owen Gray said...

Shelley said poets were the unacknowledged legislators of the world, Mogs.

Perhaps you've discovered a way into the system.

Anonymous said...

Owen it gets grimmer by the day:

corporate global governance:New World Order Blueprint Leaked

Harper is in on it so are his stooges they have been guaranteed wealth beyond belief if they sign on, I'm willing to bet. His antics make sense in light of this document.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the links, Mogs. People are justifiably concerned about the TPP.

There is a reason these people do things things in secret.