Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney, but from a different era


Image: Senator Joe McCarthy with aide Cohen
Jim Flaherty and the House Committee on Un-Canadian Activities
Guest columnist
Louis Mix
Edmonton, Alberta

I have watched with some interest Brent Fullard’s attempt to crack through the ignorance, apparent or real, of Thomas Mulcair about income trusts and the fraudulent reports of tax leakage. Three years ago, just before the farce of the Finance Committee hearings on income trusts, I spoke with Brent by phone. At that time we had the Flaherty statement of Halloween 06 and the Dec 06 PwC report on energy trusts but the fraud of the blacked-out data had not yet happened. Our conversation very quickly went to the question “How can this be happening in a democratic country?” What we did not know at the time was that Canada is not really a democracy. Since then we have come to realize that the Government is formed from competing oligarchies using a selection mechanism something like Hummingbird sex. In Canadian democracy, the citizen—like the male Hummingbird—is significant only for the time it takes the ballot to drop from the voter’s hand to the bottom of the ballot-box. For the Hummingbird equivalency see http://animals.howstuffworks.com/birds/hummingbird-sex.htm.

A democracy is supposed to safeguard its citizens from deceitful and harmful politicians who use their power and influence to serve special interests. And usually democracy does that, especially when the interests of many thousands of citizens are at stake. Except for one other situation, I can’t recall a case where democracy has failed so miserably. Normally you’d expect the opposition to hound a government official who lies until the truth is told. And you’d expect a similar thing from the national press. So what explains the fact that the opposition parties have been totally ineffectual in pressing for the truth about the Finance Minister’s lies and wilfully cover-up of the truth a prepared by his own department?

Here is a reasonable guess. The Department of Finance, using its authority and alleged independence from politics, has put this word out to all the politicians: “The Flaherty double-taxation of income trusts,” some mandarin has said “is technically flawed but it produces a good result; the good result is that income trusts, if not impeded would retard the economic development of Canada and Flaherty’s flawed tax prevents all that blah, blah, blah... What else would explain the fact that a Finance Minister has lied to Parliament but the opposition, the press and a majority of the citizens have accepted the lie?

A similar situation happened in the U.S.A. with Senator Joe McCarthy. One important difference is that McCarthy was a Senator; kind of like our backbench MP. McCarthy was not in the executive branch of government. McCarthy told believable lies. At the height of his influence 50% of Americans believed his accusations. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_McCarthy

Another difference is that the other U.S. politicians moved to censure McCarthy. But a similarity—albeit a weak similarity because Canadian reporters are pretty solid eh?—is that both men were able to use the press to spread their deception around the country. Even after McCarthy was exposed, more than 33% of Americans still believed his lies.

I suppose their “true believers” would say “They did what they believed to be in the best interests of the country.” Not for a minute do I believe that Jim Flaherty has acted in the interests of Canada and Canadians. But if I am proved wrong, I will accept that. So let's see that blacked-out data.

By the way, don’t ‘tut-tut’ Canada too hard. The Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee continued to persecute people for being too socialist. The blacklist of being Un-American continued to operate after McCarthy was censured; and some “good people” in government continued to ruin the careers and lives of innocent people. The Un-American Activities Committee continued to meet until 1975. And so too does the Finance Committee of Parliament continue to meet.

I expect a crack in wall of real or feigned ignorance will happen. Times change, loyalties grow cold, old secrets emerge to die in the light of day. Getting back to the NDP, another problem they have is that one of their own was duped into being a stoolie for the wannabe Government Tories.

3 comments:

CAITI said...

Louis:

Are you predicting that Flaherty won’t like the Marshall Savings Plan?

McCarthy and President Truman clashed often during the years both held office. McCarthy characterized Truman and the Democratic Party as soft on, or even in league with, Communists, and spoke of the Democrats' "twenty years of treason". Truman, in turn, once referred to McCarthy as "the best asset the Kremlin has," calling McCarthy's actions an attempt to "sabotage the foreign policy of the United States" in a cold war and comparing it to shooting American soldiers in the back in a hot war.[42] It was the Truman Administration's State Department that McCarthy accused of harboring 205 (or 57 or 81) "known Communists," and Truman's Secretary of Defense George Catlett Marshall was the target of some of McCarthy's most colorful rhetoric. Marshall was also Truman's former Secretary of State and had been Army Chief of Staff during World War II. Marshall was a highly respected statesman and general, best remembered today as the architect of the Marshall Plan for post-war reconstruction of Europe, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. McCarthy made a lengthy speech on Marshall, later published in 1951 as a book titled America's Retreat From Victory: The Story Of George Catlett Marshall. Marshall had been involved in American foreign policy with China, and McCarthy charged that Marshall was directly responsible for the loss of China to Communism. In the speech McCarthy also implied that Marshall was guilty of treason;[43] declared that "if Marshall were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve this country's interest";[43] and most famously, accused him of being part of "a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man."[43]

Brent Fullard

Anonymous said...

WONDERFUL!

Bill

Dr Mike said...

Well said Louis--excellent job--we should have you back to take another run at it sometime.

..............................................................

Change can only be accomplished if people have an open mind & are willing to hold open discussions on an issue to develop a generalized consensus.

Usually change is not often required if this same process is followed when making the original decisions.

This is where guys like Flaherty & most politicians are found to be lacking as their minds are not truly open to change & their consultations are flawed as they consult with only those they feel are of importance.

The people most affected by any change are not usually included in the discussions & as a result any change is usually not in their best interests.

Hence we ended up with the Tax fairness Plan which hurt those that could least afford it & helped those who were consulted.

Dr Mike Popovich