Friday, February 22, 2008

post-debate comments part II

Having told you what I liked about Hinman's message, what didn't I like?

Hinman wrapped up by describing our party as the "True Conservative Alternative". My problem with this is that this messaging clashes with the post-ideological messaging of efficiency and innovation. At the end of the day, conservative policy options are generally efficiency and innovation-friendly. But I'd rather lead people there with the reasoning process than jump there. Voters respect a politician that stakes out his turf clearly and simply but I don't think that simplification that helps people along to making an easy judgment is an unalloyed good.

My other criticism would be that our child care policy should emphasize neutrality across methods of child rearing. I believe that was what Paul ultimately meant, but it at times the phrasing he used suggested that he viewed a parental decision to place a child in day care as less preferable to raising a child at home. If we are going to go down that road we should be quick with the supporting statistics so that it is clear that it is not "values" that drive us to that conclusion but neutral evidence. I would have gone back to what he said at other times, and that's that spending a few million in one place and a few million in another place creates winners and losers (losers being those who pay for the program without benefiting from it) in an arbitrary way and so we should choose broad-based tax relief where all parents benefit some over subsidizing a few thousand daycare spaces where the lucky few got a significant benefit and the rest get nothing.

Taft's "climate change locomotive" didn't go over well with me, and not least because I had just today read a comment somewhere online where someone equated typical CO2 abatement efforts to standing in front of a locomotive and throwing a bucket of cash at it with the idea it will suddenly come to a grinding stop. There are two ways to deal with rushing locomotives and one of them is to ADAPT to what is coming. Human beings can adapt to far more climates than most animals yet this distinguishing feature seems to have suddenly escaped us from this point forward. The analogy not only got me asking why we don't just step out of the way instead of marshalling colossal resources to stop it, but further highlighted how the rhetoric over climate change reaches a shriller level with each passing day such that voices raising other priorities become increasingly muffled. A billion dollars (assuming, with no small indulgence, that it would only be a billion) is not chump change. I bet we could clean up a lake for a billion, and and actually have something to show for it afterwards!

Stelmach's best line was when he got on about "Alberta is a beacon of hope and a beacon of prosperity". Appeals to patriotism always work better for incumbents. Get people thinking about how good they've got it instead of what they don't have or could have.

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