Green Turns to Brown: "Zeitgeist", "Not Normal Times", and BS
June 30, 2008 by Paul McKeever
With gas prices up at around C$1.35 per litre, the release a week and a half ago of Stéphane Dion’s “Green Shift” plan to impose more taxes on middle and upper income earners is being rejected. You can see it in letters to the editor, you can read it on blogs. And the left has been left with little ability to respond to the plan’s assessment as a failure.
Of those who are neutral or positive about The Green Shift, virtually none are defending its actual content. Doing so would expose it for what it is: a proposal for a dramatic shift of earnings, from those who earn to those who do not. Instead, we are getting spirited sermons about how “green” is a freight train that cannot be stopped. The psychological strategy is obvious enough: if a proposal is too irrational and destructive to sell on its merits, tell people that no matter what the proposal is, the cultural momentum in favour of it is too great to stop its implementation.
Here are today’s disgustingly transparent examples.
In the Liberal-friendly Globe and Mail newspaper, columnist Lawrence Martin tries to tell us that “the green issue” is the “zeitgeist”:
…[the] green [issue] has mushroomed to become the all-encompassing issue of our age. It is the spirit of the times [i.e., the “zeitgeist”], the new ideology. Green tides spill over into everything and, in so doing, change our political dynamic, perhaps profoundly.
And why does he want us to focus not on the details of Dion’s platform, but upon Woodstockesque pleas about ghosts, goblins and other irrational spirits of the time? Why else, other than to suggest that the Conservatives aren’t wearing this season’s colours?:
The spirit of the times is green and the new ideology is green and the dilemma for our governing Conservatives is this: They’re still blue.
Their dilemma is compounded by the Liberals’ dramatic bid to capture the zeitgeist, to take the green issue by the throat, to make it – along with the Green Party – their own.
That’s right. Unlike Liberals, such as the former Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, Conservatives aren’t cool because they don’t take things by the throat:
Former PM Chretien seizes protester by throat (Source: CTV archives)
An interesting aside: see the CBC television story (bottom) in which Chretien’s seizure of protester Bill Clennett is discussed. What Liberal apologist do we see interviewed and doing his darnedest to spin the story into one in which Chretien was just “defending himself” from the 60-pounds-soaking-wet Bill Clennett? None other than Mr. “take the green issue by the throat” himself, Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin! (sorry Lawrence, but that coincidence was just too sweet not to mention).
If we remain brain dead enough to take Martin’s superficial nonsense seriously until Parliament sits again, might we expect him to be judging political platforms on the basis of which party is caught wearing white after Labour Day?
In the Globe and Mail’s spiritual sister publication, the Toronto Star, columnist Carol Goar begins with undeniable political history:
If the normal rules of politics prevail, the environment will slide down the nation’s priority list this summer.
That is what always happens in economic downturns. Bread-and-butter issues leap to the fore, displacing concerns about pollution, smog, global warming and the health of the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, it appears she bothered to start with that recognition of reality only to establish some initial credibility before engaging on a flight of wishful fancy:
But on rare occasions, public opinion breaks loose from its historical moorings. Canadians set aside self-interest to pursue an imperative common goal.
It’s beginning to look as if this is one of those times.
She offers up four laughable reasons to support her contention that Canadians seem willing to part with their money to fight global climate change even as their jobs disappear and the cost of living skyrockets due to a tanking North American economy. Laughable. Just look at them:
Despite the slowdown, Canadians have maintained their resolve to combat climate change. Although they are worried about their jobs, their fuel bills and the cost of living, they are still willing to reduce their energy use.
Refer to economics 101. When people are worried about job security, they are willing to reduce their use of…everything, not just “energy”. In fact, I’ll bet a significant part of my anatomy that families will be reducing their spending on dining and entertainment much more dramatically than they will be reducing their spending on the fuel that gets them to and from work each day, or that heats their homes during Canada’s 8 months of winter. It is false to suggest that Canadians are spending less on fuel. But, to go further, and to suggest that reduced spending on energy is due to a wide-spread, commitment to fighting climate change is intellectually dishonest. The wallet, not the wallaby, is what concerns the vast majority of people who care to survive and be happy on this planet.
British Columbians haven’t lashed out at their government, which announced the country’s first carbon tax four months ago.
Of course, the BC carbon tax does not come into effect until Canada Day. Few people care to keep track of government plans until they actually come into effect and affect their lives. Anybody care to believe that BC drivers won’t lash out at the BC government starting tomorrow? For Ms. Goar to suggest that a lack of lashing out to date is somehow evidence of a commitment to fighting global climate change would be intellectually dishonest, if it weren’t so obviously false.
Goar’s third point is another whopper:
Initial reaction to Stéphane Dion’s climate change strategy, unveiled 11 days ago, has been thoughtful. Canadians are digesting it, figuring out how it would affect them and the planet. Political analysts give the Liberal leader credit for having a substantive plan. Even those who oppose the idea of a carbon tax aren’t ridiculing his priorities.
Huh? Let’s start at the beginning. First, to “digest” something or to “figure out” something requires that one first read something. I can speak with some authority when I tell you that – with good reasons – much less than 1% of the public has bothered to read Dion’s “The Green Shift”. Newsflash: the vast majority of people have neither the time nor the inclination to read through 48 pages of Liberal self-aggrandizement (e.g., “We need leadership that will be honest with Canadians, put good ideas on the table, quickly put a price on pollution and bring forward a plan to help Canada succeed in the 21st-century global economy” – Message from Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion) in which, here and there, there is a smattering of actual substance…all of it falling into the categories “no thanks” and “so what?”
Second, who are the “political analysts” giving Dion credit for the plan? Moreover, who gives a damn about “political” analysts? The only people who care about the opinions of political analysts are those seeking political office. The vast majority of Canadians want to know not whether “The Green Shift” is good for Dion’s electoral prospects, but whether it will be good for their own lives and happiness. Here’s the only analysis that matters: the Liberal “Green Shift” plan would mean that people would have less money, fewer jobs, more personal suffering, and more government departments promising to deliver the undeliverable (i.e., the prevention of global climate change). Presented with that reality, most people are likely to tell “political analysts” that they can stick their opinions where the Green House Gases are plentiful.
Goar’s final point:
Even those who oppose the idea of a carbon tax aren’t ridiculing his priorities.
First: that’s false, as anyone could easily verify by googling “green shit“, “green shaft“, or “red shift“. Second: most of those who have refrained from “ridiculing [Dion’s] priorities” are simply unwilling to be smeared, in response, with the left’s favourite smear: “Denier”; the hypocritical likening of anyone who doesn’t join the eco-fascist goose-stepping parade to Ernst Zundel and other anti-Semitic trash.
Stéphane Dion, in Parliament, resorting to the “climate change denier” smear.
Alternatively, they are unwilling to be likened to criminals.
Goar’s final point is utterly ludicrous. She implies that Barack Obama’s bid for the Democratic nomination was enhanced by a refusal to share Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a summer suspension of the federal gas tax. Evidence? None. Evidence that said bump was due to a commitment to fighting global climate change? Get real.
She continues, and it only gets more pathetic. Apparently, pollster Angus Reid had a poll result – one year ago – in which participants said they were going to change their behaviour for the betterment of the environment. Anyone want to bet what the result would have been at about New Years had Reid polled Canadian’s about whether they were going to change their diets and exercise regimes? Please.
She then shifts into the same “this freight train’s unstoppable” schtick used by Lawrence in his column. She tells us all about how provincial and municipal governments have already begun to propose or implement proposals to fight climate change. Should they have done so? “Who cares?”, Goar seems to imply, “This train has left the station!”.
Goar concludes her ode to the irrational with this dozen-per-nickel line:
In normal times, people are more inclined to avoid risks than take them.
But there are strong indications that these are not normal times.
So, by her own admission, fighting global climate change is a risk. At least that understatement borders on truth.
For those who prefer not to ignore the facts of reality, I suggest to you columns from two writers who apparently do not seek knowledge of the present by wishing on stars. The National Post’s Jonathan Kay explains that Dion’s tax-grab “Green Shift” plan arrived still-born in fuel-dependent Northern Canada. Canada Free Press’ Arthur Weinrib does away with all of the wishful thinking, and reports that a slumping economy has done what it always does: in one year, the environment has been dropped from being Canadians’ number one issue down to being number three, with only 16% of “backpack-toting, sandal-wearing, aging 60s hippies” still viewing it as the number one issue. Taking the environment’s place in top spot: the economy.
Former Canadian PM takes Anglo Quebec secessionist Bill Clennett by the throat.