Monday, 27 July 2015

The Stupidest Guys in the Room

I'm not the only person I know who has some contempt for the 30-ish percent of Canadian voters who will vote for the Conservative party regardless of what they do. In the US and Canada, conservative politicians are people who use their own fantastically bad job of governing as evidence that government cannot be trusted in the hopes of getting themselves re-elected as the anti-government party. If you can't tell the difference between that and actual conservatism - the counterpoint to and balance against progressivism - then you aren't very clever.

To probably apocryphally paraphrase John Stuart Mill, conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.

But Canada's Conservative government isn't targeting those authoritarian personality types with their policies. Those people will vote for the right-wingyest party regardless of policy, so why waste a thought or a dime on them? No, the policies are aimed at the ten or fifteen percent of people who will consider voting conservative if the inducement is right.

So the scheme was to eliminate the existing Child Tax Credit and increase the Universal Child Care Benefit. They got rid of a tax credit for those with children under 18 and replaced it with a $60 per month payment for those with children under 18. Then, they got confused about how to actually issue checks for $60 a month and figured it out just recently, a few months before the election, meaning they gave six months of benefits out at once. They were so crass about this scheme that they referred to it as "Christmas in July" and touted it as the largest single payout by the government ever.

Of course because they eliminated a tax credit, the vast majority of the benefit will effectively be taxed back at the end of the year. The benefit itself is taxable to begin with. I've seen different people give different numbers, but it sounds like most people should expect to pay about 80% of that check back at tax time. So the "here's $360, please vote for us," is really just a veil over "here's $10-$12 a month, please vote for us." Not to mention that this change may well mean that a lot of poorer families go from expecting a tax return to having to pay taxes this year - something many people will not understand and plan for.

In the most recent poll, support for the Conservatives rocketed up. While they were previously showing second to the NDP, they are not showing a solid first, maybe back in majority government territory.

So no, my contempt should not be aimed at the 30% of Canadians who cling to the leader of their identified tribe regardless of how corrupt that leader is. No, it should be aimed at the 10% of Canadians who are such complete morons that they will choose who to vote for based on a shiny check with their name on it. Right wing authoritarians may be the bulk of the conservative movement, but these people are the make-or-break supporters that throw it over the edge. These are the selfish idiots who don't even understand how to be selfish right.

That's who all the politicians are fighting over. People with not particular conviction, no long term memory, no long term plans. People who can be bought cheap. Oh, and apparently most of them have kids.

I hope they choke.

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