Saturday, January 26, 2008

Harper: Facts Are Irrelevant

Harper's speech yesterday contained one quote, which suggests unsubstantiated fear-mongering should shape policy, rather than those pesky "statistics", factual measurements, rooted in objective analysis. Referencing the government's "law and order" agenda, Harper criticizes other's for:
"(They) try to pacify Canadians with statistics," Harper said, suggesting emotion should outweigh empirical evidence.

"Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong, they say..."

Harper admits the facts on the ground don't support his claim of rampant crime, a society turning violent. Harper argues it is wrong for government to use empirical measurements to help guide policy. What matters, apparently, preying on people's fears to maximize political gain. We are irresponsible in our presentation, but we know the public psychology, so we can capitalize.

Harper advocates a war on reason, and when you extrapolate that mentality on the role of government, the implications are frightening. We know best, emotional response is more important that rational analysis. Those that mention facts are "apologists", those that point to the empirical are "soft". I'm sure that sort of crappy logic plays well to the minions, but it really is a pitiful characterization that defies the basic premise of "good government".

8 comments:

ottlib said...

Why worry about the facts when you already have the answers before anybody asks the questions?

You know, I really do not have a great hostility to the conservative way of thinking. I would consider myself to be conservative in many ways.

However, I cannot stand nor do I trust ideologues, regardless of their political stripe.

Leadership is about having the flexibility of mind and reason to be able to adapt to changing situations and come up with solutions based on analysis and thought. Stephen Harper and his ilk have demonstrated the exact opposite of that since they burst onto the public scene 15 years ago.

The sooner they are thrown into the dustbin of history the sooner our country can get on with realizing its promise.

Anonymous said...

They (the Conservatives) don't want reason, and they don't want progress for the ordinary person. They could care less whether or not the statistics show that crime in Canada is down, and that the Liberals actually cut a lot of taxes while maintaining no deficit for 13 years.

Truth doesn't matter to them. It simply doesn't, and if they get a majority, you'll find out what really matters to them, power.

And on that day I will be sincerely afraid for what they will do to this country and all of the people in it in the crusade of gaining more power.

Steve V said...

anon

This portion is relevant to your point:

"They never saw a tax they didn't like. Never saw a tax they wouldn't hike."

Those lines drew chuckles from the party faithful. But they also flew in the face of historical fact.

The previous Liberal government cut taxes by $100 billion, eliminated the deficit, presided over years of uninterrupted economic growth, and tabled more tax cuts in a 2005 budget the Tories later reversed.

ottlib

That's the problem with this government, the "we know best" arrogance, sprinkled with a decided dose of pandering for a majority.

Anonymous said...

You have to wonder if the CPC have done any real study on crime and punishment.

Anderson Cooper did a special on gangs in L.A. One thing that came out in the special was that gangs work from inside the prisons as well as outside.

Ted Koppel also did a special on American prisons. They are so overloaded that they're not even maintained properly, they're dirty and a mess. They have no programs to rehabilitated because there isn't enough room and time so that when prisoners are released to go right back to crime. If a young guy got into trouble for his first time, there is nothing to help lead him away from the crime world. He showed on prison that was built to hold 70,000 and there were more than 150,000 inmates. A lot of the American prisons are privatized....I wonder if that's what Harper plans.

I also saw on TV last night that the prisoners in B.C. have no trouble getting their drugs, via babies, and the guards are having a terrible time.

This hang 'em high attitude will only make it worse.

If Harper really was interested in fighting crime he'd look into the gun situation but I guess he doesn't want to mess with the U.S. NRA.

Mushroom said...

As an aside, Roger Gibbins of the Canada West Foundation has labelled Harper "The Automaton". The Economist has adopted that, along with Paul Martin's "Mr. Dithers".

It is now time to write the political obituary of Stephen Harper. Unfulfilled potential due to the inability to ad-lib. Too scripted as a politician. Will live and die through the use of standard operating procedures.

Scotian said...

This is why I have always referred to the Harper CPC as a "faith based" party, in that they operate not on facts but on what they believe regardless of what the actual facts/reality have to say about it. How does one debate someone that refuses to acknowledge reality like this? This is Harper telling his party that they are entitled to their own facts AND that they are the only ones that count and anything that doesn't mesh is automatically suspect as being from some sort of secret liberal cabal and automatically false and worse, somehow anti-Canadian and therefore any and all means to eliminate it is acceptable along with of course those that dare be the messenger. Combine this with the science advisor to the PM being sacked and that should tell everyone remotely connected to sanity/reality exactly how dangerous this government is and how arrogant it is in thinking only it knows the "truth" of anything.

It is this aspect which is why I most oppose Harper and his CPC, how does one work with those that refuse to deal with reality or define compromise as total capitulation to their beliefs? As Ottlib says, ideologues cannot be reasoned with and are dangerous to open/democratic societies if they are ever given power wherever that ideology might be on the left-right political spectrum. Bushco certainly illustrated that in action, you would think that might have gotten through to at least a few of the supposedly intelligent people supporting this CPC government.

Miles Lunn said...

I think all parties do a fair amount of appealing to emotion including the Liberals, but the fact they would actually say this should be taken up. The sad thing today is few want to listen to what politicians have to say and winning becomes more about who has the best ten second bites rather than soundest policy.

One thing I like about Dion is the fact he is flexible and does look at the facts rather than just appealing to emotion. That was also the reason I despised some of Paul Martin's advisors such as Scott Reid and John Duffy as they seemed to try and encourage Martin to run based on emotion rather than facts.

As for the crime issue, crime is falling and longer sentences only make sense in a limited number of cases. The only reason the public is for longer sentences is we only hear about the worse crimes and the only sentences we hear about are those who get ones that people would see as unreasonably low. My view is the focus should be on rehabilatation and only retribution for the most heinous ones. In addition those who are repeat offenders or commit heinous crimes are the ones who deserve the longest sentences as these people will never become productive members of society. But for first time offenders, it makes a lot more sense to try and rehabilatate them so they won't re-offend and can become productive members of society rather than hardened criminals. Most European countries give even lighter sentences than Canada while the United States gives longer and it has done little to deter crime there. The only place I can think of where long sentences work is Singapore in the sense their crime is extremely low, but I would never advocate going to this extreme as they practically have a police state.

Mushroom said...

"As Ottlib says, ideologues cannot be reasoned with and are dangerous to open/democratic societies if they are ever given power wherever that ideology might be on the left-right political spectrum."

Speaking of ideologues, there is another party leader on the left who is just as inflexible. It is no surprise that Harper and Layton get along well with each other, political disagreements aside. Jack's failed campaign as Mayor of Toronto highlighted this factor quite well. Their taunting of Dion is on the same wavelength, if not the same channel.

"That was also the reason I despised some of Paul Martin's advisors such as Scott Reid and John Duffy as they seemed to try and encourage Martin to run based on emotion rather than facts."

Miles, Paul Martin became Mr. Dithers as PM because he lacked emotion and overloaded with facts. Too many promises, not enough substance. In the end, his main legacy is same-sex marriage.

Miles, if Dion wins the next election, it will have to be on his authenticity. He has to be his own man and needs to overcome the mistakes he made in the Outremont by-election. David Smith and John Rae have tried to inject more political savvy into Dion and I think it hurts him. A mild-mannered consensus builder has become more of a reluctant party boss. The Joan Beatty appointment highlights this dilemma.