Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Linda McQuaig Must Be Defeated

Apparently, the by-election in Toronto Centre is effectively set. Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland will contest the riding against NDP nominee Linda McQuaig.

The two-horse-race is apparently so much so that whoever the Conservative nominee in the riding might end up being, they haven't warranted so much as a mention in coverage so far.

Freeland is far from a perfect candidate. But as seldom as I endorse a Liberal candidate, I can certainly say that she's the far better of the two candidates: the "lesser of two evils," as it were.

The reason for this actually boils entirely down to McQuaig. She is what NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has insisted that his party doesn't represent: she's very much a "class war" candidate, bent on winning support from the poor by not only demonizing the wealthy, but promising re-distribution of wealth on a stunning scale. And while this may play well to voters in Regent Park, it's actually the reason why, for the good of the country, Linda McQuaig absolutely must be defeated.

It all comes down to her economic theories:

1. They're vindictive - McQuaig doesn't like millionaires. She really doesn't like billionaires. And so she has consistently advocated for policies that would wipe out every fortune in Canada. This is, of course, the dark side of McQuaig's equality crusade: her quest to force equality of result -- as opposed to equality of opportunity -- on Canadian society requires that she take the things people have earned for them, mostly just for the sake of taking it.

That's not the kind of attitude that ends itself to strong government.

2. They're tyrannical -There's something about a person who thinks that she should be able to decide what you should be able to earn, and what you should be able to leave to your children. Think about that: not only does she want to confiscate any excess if she thinks you've managed to earn too much, but if even if someone were to find their way around that and earn a fortune, she wants to confiscate it upon your passing.

She apparently thinks herself fit to decide what your children can have when you're gone. That's a staggering amount of power she thinks herself fit to wield.

3. They're reckless - McQuaig eyes up the wealthy as a source of revenue from which the government can fund the laundry list of social programs she envisions -- and those that she hasn't even thought up yet.

So imagine that McQuaig gets what she wants. Presumably everything's fine so long as their are fortunes to snatch.

What happens when there aren't?

McQuaig's policies would saddle Canada with extravagant social programming under on the basis that pilfered fortunes could be used to pay for them. And then her policies actively and deliberately set out to destroy the source of that revenue. It would be enough to transform Canada into Greece within a single generation. A competent economist would know better.

4. They're irrational - A competent economist would know better. Yet somehow Linda McQuaig doesn't.

How could this be? She may not necessarily be an economist, but she considers herself well-versed in economics. Yet her theories reject not only any remote semblance of economic orthodoxy -- in itself not necessarily a bad thing -- but also reject decades worth of economic history. She's the kind of theorist who not only clings to her model for years after the observed results contradicts them, but actually doubles down.

It doesn't seem unfair to suggest that running to be an MP is McQuaig's way of doubling down on her own disproven economic fantasies. McQuaig's theories wouldn't bring an embrace of evidence-based governance to Parliament, but rather a rejection of it.

Farbeit to say that electing McQuaig is guaranteed to bring economic ruin to Canada. After all, she would be but one MP, and her party has absolutely no chance of ever governing the country. But should McQuaig be elected, it would show that Canadians very much could be wooed by petty divisiveness and pure ideological fervour.

That should never be allowed to happen. Linda McQuaig must be defeated in Toronto-Centre.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Who Edits Michael Harris' Columns, Anyway?

Recently, iPolitics columnist Michael Harris took some valuable iPolitics webspace to pout over a scathing letter to the editor by Peter MacKay. It was well-earned by Harris, who had bought into Amir Attaran's bizarre attempt to single-handedly re-write Canadian drug law. Whichever iPolitics editor decided it was a good idea to give Harris space to publicly mope over the tongue-lashing ought to have their heads examined.

Doubly so for his most recent work.

It's everything that Harris has managed to distinguish his work as: lazy, amateurish, and steeped in a Twitter-ized narrative that doesn't hold up to very basic scrutiny. It's less a coherent work of political journalism and more a list of complaints. But even as Harris piles on the complaints, he also manages to pile on the factual errors. To whit:

"During the Idle No More protests in Ottawa, PM Harper was as aloof as Louis the 14th, refusing to meet certain native leaders who were tired of the federal runaround on land claims and treaty rights. They learned that Stephen Harper doesn’t make time for nobodies.

The government attempted to humiliate Chief Theresa Spence during her protest by leaking an audit about her lack of managerial skills on her home reserve. That tactic was put in perspective when the Treasury Board later lost $3.2 billion in taxpayers money, but said that was okay because no one was alleging any misspending."

This is the kind of disaster that ensues when a would-be journalist takes their directions from social media.

First off, Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't refuse to meet with First Nations leaders as Harris claims. Harper did in fact meet with Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo. Other First Nations leaders -- many of whom backed Spence's demand for such a meeting -- refused to attend such a meeting, and even threatend Atleo with political repercussions if he did attend. In fact, Spence herself attempted to emotionally blackmail Atleo.

Secondly, the Deloitte audit of Attawapiskat's finances was released at the time it had been scheduled to be released. Spence was fully aware of this, and decided to grandstand against Harper -- by faking a hunger strike -- anyway.

Then there's the biggest whopper of all: claiming that the $3.2 billion was "lost" only after the release of this audit, when in fact the money in question was budgeted between 2001-09. Which means that for approximately five years, that money was either spent or not spent -- the audit in question couldn't actually tell which -- under a Liberal Party government. (Update - the treasury board has tracked the $3.2 billion. Not a penny of it was misspent, misappropriated, or lost -- something Harris seems to have very little to say about.)

That's three staggering factual errors in just two paragraphs. It's enough to beg the question of just who does the editing at iPolitics -- or if Harris' work is subjected to any kind of editing at all.

One thing is for certain: if Michael Harris won't check his own facts -- and it seems clear that he won't -- someone needs to do it for him. Unfortunately for iPolitics, it was me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Profiles in Courage

This story is actually a couple months old. But I think it's worth bringing up ever so briefly.

Meet Malala Yousafzai. In July, she spoke to a UN youth assembly -- at which General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon was present -- about her experiences being shot by the Taliban for the "crime" of going to school. By the grace of God she survived the ordeal, and is not backing down from her oppressors:
On the other hand, meet Brigette DePape. She's the attention-seeking human bobblehead who held up a "Stop Harper" sign while the Governor General. And she's been quite pleased with any amount of attention she's gotten since.
So let's compare these two young women: Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban, yet she still stands up to them. She was doing nothing to court or provoke them, she did nothing to seek attention. DePape, on the other hand, goes out of her way to attract attention. She is never harmed -- although she is fired for deliberately violating the terms of her employment. Moreover, she does this in a room full of people who are duty-bound to not harm her.

One of these things is not like the other. One of these two young women has courage. But regardless of what the Council of Canadians would have you believe, it isn't DePape.

Perhaps Brigette DePape has what the soft, comfortable Canadian far-left considers courage. But compared to the courage possessed by Malala Yousafzai, it becomes clear that isn't courage at all. It is, at best, naked opportunism not-so-convincingly disguised as courage.

Fortunately, only the soft, comfortable, opportunistic far-left fell for this one.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NDP Support, Low-Effort Thinking Linked in New Study

So, stop me if you've heard this one: left-wingers are smarter than conservatives. There are even studies that prove it.

Right? Right?

Well, not so much, really. Pretty much none of those studies show what their authors say they do. Each of these studies is crippled by incredibly flawed methodology.In some cases, the authors have even had to refer to political conservatism as a "latent" variable -- which means that it is actually unobserved.

But in particular, perhaps the most flawed study was one that linked conservative political beliefs to "low-effort thinking." It's a favourite among left-wingers. To start with, the study conflated casual, distracted, or even disinterested thinking as "low-effort thinking," and seemed to preclude the idea that whatever beliefs expressed by study participants -- whether in the bar or in the laboratory -- had been decided, through careful deliberation, before the study was ever conducted. After all, Arkansas -- where the study was conducted -- is a so-called red state.

For just a moment, let's set aside the flaws in the study and consider merely its conclusion: low-effort thinking leads to conservative political beliefs. If this were true, shouldn't it be said that left-wing political beliefs don't result from low-effort thinking?

Well, a readership poll conducted by Poletical might give cause to think about that.

The poll zeroed in on the ultimate form of low-effort thinking: prejudice. The poll examined reader beliefs about conservatism and homosexuality, and they found some remarkable things:

Only 7 percent of NDP-supporting Poletical readers thought being gay and conservative is not a contradiction. 88 percent of Conservative-supporting Poletical readers thought that being gay and conservative is not a contradiction.

So the prejudicial thinking in the study essentially shaped up like this: if you're gay, NDP supporters think you shouldn't be conservative. Apparently to be so is to be a hypocrite. Conversely, Conservative supporters think that if you're gay you can be conservative if that's what you believe in. Or to put it another way, if you're conservative you can still be gay. It's OK, you were born that way.

I would say that it takes a good deal more thought to be a member of a party and movement perceived by some (NDP supporters mostly) to be oppressive to homosexuals and instead open your party and your movement up to homosexuals and welcome them into it than to tell someone they should hold your political beliefs based on that particular detail. I'd say we can extrapolate from this poll that NDP supporters are low-effort thinkers.

For bonus giggles, 73 percent of NDP supporters told Poletical that conservatives "lack intelligence."

There's some irony in this as well. If conservatives really lacked intelligence, and left-wingers were really more intelligent, they certainly wouldn't feel so much pressure to trump up junk science in order to "prove" it. They would have better ideas and arguments, and would be content to allow their intelligence to be self-evident according to the hypothetical superiority of those ideas and arguments.

That instead they rely on the aforementioned trumped-up junk science is very much a sign of the hollowing out of the left-wing intellect. But really, what else can be expected from such low-effort thinkers?