Andrew Coyne assures us "Hudak's bogus plan is no reason not to vote for him"
May 28, 2014

Andrew Coyne assures us "Hudak's bogus plan is no reason not to vote for him"

The media reaction to Hudak's 8 fold screwup in his Million 75,000 Jobs Plan has been almost as ridiculous as the mistake in the plan itself. I already wrote about what the CBC's frontpage was doing in the interest of "balance" and "nonpartisanship". But what about the media op-eds?

The latest from Andrew Coyne at the National Post exemplifies much of what is wrong with politics. We are assured in the title that "Tim Hudak’s bogus Million Jobs plan is no reason not to vote for him".

The article lists several points why we already knew the Million Jobs Plan was made up (fair enough) and that anybody who was voting based on a number of claims was, to quote his word choice, "a moron" (also fair enough). He compares the errors to economists like Thomas Picketty and Ken Rogoff (hardly a fair comparison). And he argues that "most political argument" are, well, arguable (which doesn't seem to help Hudak's case an iota).

Be all that as it may. It is the conclusion I really object to:
"What strikes me as the relevant consideration in thinking about the Tory plan is this: the Tories would borrow less, spend less and tax less than their rivals, at a time when less of all three would seem to be in order. You may disagree. You may not think these are the policies Ontario needs. Or perhaps you agree, but think the Tories would push things too far — or, improbably, that they would not go as far as the other parties. Fine. But notice that neither of us has said a word about a million jobs."
Consider what politics has been reduced to: Do you think there should be less taxation and spending? That's it. No details needed, no economic analysis required, no comparison between different ideas, just the simplest question: are taxes and spending being cut? The where and what and why and the how of these tax and spending cuts - you know, what a plan might give- doesn't matter. All the details - like an 8 fold mistake in the number of jobs Hudak's plan creates - doesn't matter, it just matters if they are going up or down. You can either agree with that or you can disagree.

Coyne is actually uttering precisely what so many people think, and giving the arguments so many people will give. Our society doesn't pay much attention to politics but in our millions we will vote for conservatives for the singular reason that they claim they will cut taxes and spending. If that is all you care about - the claim to cut taxes and spending - then sure, Hudak having a bonus plan probably doesn't matter. But it is a sad statement about society that this elementary view is as persistent as it is. A columnist should argue for our better virtues, not endorse the worst of them.

I'm not an ideologue on the size of government. I don't care about big or small government, I care about effective government, government that tackles specific problems when and only when their actions are optimal. As a technocrat, I want to see the detailed arguments for specific solutions. There are hundreds of different issues to be considered, and trying to reduce all of them into the simplest question of whether taxes and spending are going up or not glosses over everything that I think actually matters in politics. If Coyne really was right, I should shut this blog down and stop worrying over whether, say, removing the HST from Hydro is an effective policy. I keep at it because I hope that by talking about the issues, we can rise up from the lowest common denominator that Coyne is implicitly endorsing.


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4 comments:

rumleyfips said...

Hudak seem to think the electorate is stupid . Andrew knows this but he must think that we're stupid too.

Anonymous said...

That is the dilemma that is Coyne. Many days he makes sense, then he writes something quite stupid like this.

Why do I say it is stupid? Well, Coyne as we all know had been going on and on about the loss of trust in Harper, for instance, even going to the extent of saying in print that Harper/his government had lied to us about the costs of the F35s and the non existent contract with the aircraft's manufacturer. He had lamented about the loss of trust in the government we had elected and had taken every opportunity, it would seem, to remind us how woefully short the Harper government fell on the score of trustworthiness. Then he totally ignores the fact that the crux of the matter with Hudak, is not only incompetence (which Coyne acknowledges because of Hudak's apparent inability to differentiate "person years of employment" from "permanent jobs") but more importantly a loss of trust.

Clearly, and this needs repeating, if Hudak, a trained Economist, cannot be trusted to correctly differentiate "person years of employment" with "permanent jobs", why would anyone in his/her right mind trust anything this guy says?

There could even be a darker side to this: Hudak actually knows the difference but is betting that he can either fool people with his outrageous claims of creating a million jobs, or that there will be people like Coyne who will apparently support him despite his outrageous claims.

Sad, really, when you consider that Coyne is one of the better journalists/pundits: a testimony perhaps to the rather dysfunctional political press gallery we have today.

Anonymous said...

While it shouldn't come as a surprise, you can add Andrew Coyne then to the pile of useless narrators with no credibility. And his newspaper? Sad isn't it? So many people take the mainstream media seriously and the question is WHY?

bazie said...

It kind of makes me happy that google is displaying hudak million jobs plan ads along side this post. If nothing else, shows how contextual ads still leave a lot to be desired

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