Saturday, December 6, 2014

Let's dissect Andrew Coyne's little lies and bad arguments...


Columnists are not reporters.  Facts are less important to them than spouting off on their biases.  They're not supposed to outright lie in their commentaries.  They can omit important facts that may destabilize their arguments.  But to misrepresent the facts openly should be a no-no.  

I can handle listening or watching commentators spout opinions I don't necessarily agree with as long as they're well-articulated, thoughtful and don't include little lies.   Andrew Coyne's usually are. 

But these little lies need to be exposed.

Andrew Coyne, who is one of the four Caucasian regular participants on the weekly At-Issue panel on CBC's National (and, don't forget, one of 3 straight guys too,) has long argued there is ZERO support amongst Canadians for any meaningful action on climate change.   This is baseless, of course.  Public opinion about the need to take meaningful action to save the planet is building strength in Canada.  If you look at growing protests across the country as an indication, any reporter being honest would have to admit this is true.   More and more people are questioning the status quo including the dubious environmental review process governed by Stephen Harper.  This was made clear in a recent column by Chantal Hebert, Coyne's At-Issue colleague.

As most policy analysts agree, a carbon tax remains the smartest way to begin to address the inherent problems in our dirty oil-loving economy.  But Coyne regularly provides cover to Harper government talking points that a carbon tax is nothing but "job killing."  Coyne and the Harperites, of course, ignore the fact that carbon taxes have been good for the economy.  They reward companies that make environmentally-wise decisions and punish polluters.
 
Coyne's latest column in today's Post (which inspired this post) also goes to bat for Stephen Harper, defending our petulant Prime Minister's refusal to meet with the duly elected premier of Ontario because they have some disagreements on policy.   Any way you slice it, Harper is again behaving like a pathetic little boy in his refusal to meet with the Ontario Premier.  He doesn't want to give Kathleen Wynne a chance to describe his facial expressions in future, I guess.  Harper doesn't want to have to listen to another point of view that challenges his rigid view of the role of the federal government.   Harper's stubbornness speaks to how badly he's poisoned Canadian political life and why he needs to go as soon as possible. 

Yet Coyne tries to argue that Harper's justified because Wynne has said some critical things about Harper's policies and disagrees with him philosophically on some important matters.   Coyne gives short shrift to the Ring of Fire and the urgent need to invest in Ontario's infrastructure, but then focuses on Wynne's support for an enhanced Canada Pension Plan.  

And in so doing, Coyne inserts a couple little lies (see the bolded words below):

"The premier had demanded the prime minister sign on to her pet project of an expanded Canada Pension Plan, a proposal that would force a great many people of modest means who already have satisfactory pension arrangements to put aside money they can ill do without, in order to fix a problem affecting a small number of under-savers, mostly upper income — or, as in the case of her proposed provincial variant, to finance her as-yet-unfunded public works plans."

Oops.  Wynne's proposed pension plan would not apply to "people of modest means who already have satisfactory pension arrangements."  It specifically would only apply to workers who have no workplace pension arrangements.  Unless, of course, Coyne considers the existing maximum CPP payout of $12,000 a year a "satisfactory pension arrangement?"   Surely, he couldn't be arguing that living in extreme poverty in retirement would be "satisfactory."   Please tell me conservatives like Coyne don't believe that!

The fact is, except for those lucky enough to have sustainable pension plans through the public service or the rare private employer who doesn't go under during their employees' retirement, most Canadians have to rely on unreliable RRSPs for their retirement savings.   In 2008, we saw how reliable those arrangements are when criminals on Wall Street gambled them away for massive personal profits and an entire generation of "people of modest means" saw their hard-earned savings disappear into thin air.  It's this experience which is fueling the need to enhance satisfactory pension arrangements like the CPP, Mr. Coyne.  We've lost confidence in the private sector's ability to protect secure retirement plans.  An enhanced CPP would help people of modest means the most. 

As for Coyne's assertion that Wynne's pension plan proposal would "finance her as-yet-unfunded public works plans," I'm baffled.  It would seem he stuck in that line to further feed the conservative falsehood that an expanded CPP would somehow divert funds away from personal pensions and into other government expenditures like transit.  That's a complete lie and Coyne should be forced to recant that one. 

Coyne has also peddled other conservative BS like one-income families that make $120,000 a year are equal to two-income families that also make a combined $120,000 a year and therefore should be taxed the same thanks to Harper's income-splitting giveaway.   Of course, Coyne and others conveniently forget that one-income families have one major advantage over two-income families: if things get tough, the second non-working spouse can go out and earn a second income, thus inflating that $120,000 a year income up substantially higher.  The two-income earning family of course can't send out a third spouse to earn extra income.   It would be nice if Coyne admits this reality the next time he argues that Harper's income splitting proposal is somehow an "issue of fairness."

I usually have a lot of respect for Andrew Coyne's well-written or spoken commentaries.  But he's failing recently on the issues illustrated above.  I hope he does better in the future. 

1 comment:

Pamela Mac Neil said...

A great analysis. I\m not sure where Coyne is coming from. He's too smart to be saying the things he's saying in his most recent article. His suport of Harper in not meeting with Wynne doesn't make sense. Something that needs pointing out to Coyne and Harper for that matter is that Harper works for all Canadians, not the other way around. This tyrant has gone rogue. Wynne is right to call him on his refusal to meet. Pierre Trudeau was able to create the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with 9 Premiers and some of them absolutely despised him. They still got the job done, inspite of personal feelings. Harper pretty well meets with people who do not question his authority.Doesn't sound like Wynne to me.