Politics lends itself to hyperbole, especially when you’re competing for the public’s attention via a media that’s much more interested in Peter MacKay’s love life than it is in, say, homelessness or energy policy.
Progressive politicians and advocacy groups fall into this trap from time to time, but to understand how the professionals do it, you have to look at the folks whom Pogge so rightly labels blowhards.
Specifically, he cites the National Post story on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s dire warnings that spending money on affordable housing and the environment will lead to interspecies fornication. From that story:
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce urges the Liberals to reinstate promised tax cuts and issue a fiscal update to clarify the government’s financial status.
Without such action, the country’s overall economic health and reputation among international investors will continue to suffer, the chamber warns. “To say that program spending is out of control would be an understatement,” states the letter sent to Mr. Goodale yesterday. “It is time for the government to take the steps necessary to put Canada’s fiscal reputation back on track.”
Pogge shoots back:
We’ve run surpluses every year for the last several years and our debt-to-gdp ratio is one of the best in the G7, is it not? These people make it sound like we’re an economic basket case but independent reports from people like KPMG have found that Canada provides one of the most competitive environments to do business in the world.
….Would this be a good time to again draw attention to a report that indicated corporate profits are at a record high and corporations are already sitting on piles of cash?
I happen to think we have some serious economic times ahead and it would be useful to have a realistic discussion about how to deal with it. But it’s difficult to take these people seriously when they ignore reality and just make shit up when they’ve already had significant tax cuts, executive compensation is outrageously high compared to everyone else and corporations are sitting on more money than they know what to do with.
The Chamber is risking a Chicken Little effect. A policy they disagree with never seems to just be misguided; it’s always economic Armageddon. And that makes it all the harder to come up with something even more dire the next time they disagree with the government.
(Come to think of it, that’s one of the problems I had with this season of 24. It seemed the :54-minute mark of every episode featured a terrorist mastermind shouting “Curses! Jack Bauer has foiled our fiendish scheme… which, fortunately, was merely a diversionary tactic while we launch this fiendish scheme!”)
That’s a problem for the Chamber, because given how out of step they are with the priorities Canadians keep stubbornly expressing at the ballot box, it’s going to keep happening.
And it’s a problem for the rest of us. Hyperbole tends to drive out reflection and reason in political discourse, and the Chamber has an awfully big megaphone…