The Shotgun Blog
Monday, September 22, 2008
Dion on the role of government
At the end of this interview with Mike Duffy, Mr. Dion makes a bold claim. He says that Stephen Harper does not understand the role of government. He says that the role of government is to 'help people' in times of downturn. He ties Harper not just to Bush but to Reagan and Hoover as well. The reference to Hoover was particularly interesting. Suggesting that Harper will let the present crisis turn into a full collapse.
The problem with Dion's idea of 'helping people' is that it doesn't actually work that way. Everything the government does is done by force. When the government 'helps people' what they are really doing is taking money from some people and giving it to other people. So to help they must also hurt.
Dion wants to talk about the lessons of the past. Well why can't he learn from the lessons of 50 years of failed Keynsian theory? Why must governments insist that the world can only work if they control everything?
Dion tried to sell himself as a centre-rightist in this interview. His idea of 'helping' reveals him for what he truelly is; in advocate for the expansion of the state.
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Posted by: Adam King | 2008-09-22 4:51:07 PM
Unless you are an anarchist, you belive that some government (no matter how limited) is justified. Any government (no matter how limited) requires money to pay for what it does, which means using money that would otherwise be in the pockets of its citizens. So only the anarchist does not support coercive taxation. Now, you might be an anarchist, but I doubt it. And if you are not, don't pretend to be miffed by Dion voicing support for the very thing you support.
As for how tax money should be spent, it can be spent in ways that help people or it can be spent in ways that don't help people. Personally, I'm with Dion in prefering that it be spent in ways that help people. You seem to disagree. How odd.
You ask, "Why must governments insist that the world can only work if they control everything?" Ummm. Dion has never said (to my knowledge) that governments should control everything. In fact, none of the party leaders have said anything that would indicate this. It looks like paranoid fantasies are getting the best of you.
Finally, to be in favour of helping does not mean you are in favour of "the expansion of the state". That is just something you made up. You can believe that the state should stay exactly as big as it is now, but it should do a better job than it has of helping people. You also can believe that the state should be smaller and do a better job of helping people. There is nothing about being pro-help that means you are pro-expansion.
Your post reads like a naive attempt to play libertarian without knowing what you are talking about. Throw around a bit of 'government uses force' rhetoric, add some 'expansion of the state', and add a touch of 'total state control of everything', and voila! Presto! You have a post. Just not one that says anything very intelligent.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-22 4:57:15 PM
Are you calling me or Dion reactionist? And I've heard people use the word in several ways, what exactly do you mean by reactionist?
Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2008-09-22 4:57:56 PM
I do see the need for taxation, but that doesn't mean that I can't object to taxation that is higher than needed. Besides its not taxation that 'miffed' me here, it is his assumption that the state can make everything better.
"Personally, I'm with Dion in prefering that it be spent in ways that help people. You seem to disagree. How odd."
There are ways that the state can help people, such as protecting them against a theif. The state can't shield people from reality. That is to say, no amount of regulation will save us from disasters. Disaster is a part of life.
"In fact, none of the party leaders have said anything that would indicate this. "
He pretty clearly said that he wants to increase regulations. that is an expansion of the state. Did you watch the interview or just blindly leap to Dion's defence?
"Finally, to be in favour of helping does not mean you are in favour of "the expansion of the state"."
Fine but the way that Dion was talking about helping was about expansion. I again have to wonder if you watched the interview. Dion is clearly talking about expanding the state on the premise that it will be better for people. The later part of the 21st century demonstrates that it doesn't work that way.
"You have a post. Just not one that says anything very intelligent."
You like to attack people's intelligence as if its an argument. What exactly is stupid about what I said? You either didn't really read my post or you didn't understand it. Either way I hope my response has cleared it up for you.
Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2008-09-22 5:12:45 PM
I don't trust Dion as a centre-rightist or a "prudent" government manager as far as I can throw him, all he's promised so far is more taxation and more spending (his reaction to Arts funding cuts?–let's double the budget), and unlike Blair or Clinton who proposed "third-way" policies to distinguish them from their parties' left wings, Dion has done nothing of the sort.
But this all raises a pretty crucial question: When's the last time we heard Stephen Harper talking about balanced budgets?
Don't even get me started on Conservative spending, here's John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation:
"Mr. Martin's fiscal recklessness grew the size of government by 14% over two years. This certainly qualifies him as a big spending Liberal. The Conservatives have controlled the government purse strings since early 2006. After their first two years, Ottawa had grown another 14.8%. This is higher than Mr. Martin's appalling record, making Mr. Harper a bigger spending Conservative."
July 17th, 2008 (http://www.taxpayer.com/main/news.php?news_id=2924)
Where have all the small government conservatives gone? I'm afraid I have no reason to believe that Harper under with a new government mandate (minority or majority) will change his loose-spending behaviour.
Anyone else want to join me in supporting Maxime Bernier for Tory leader? Oh wait–Julie Couillard's tell-all book is being released on October 6th. There goes that plan.
Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-09-22 5:19:46 PM
Dion has only one role in politics: to explain, defend and rationalize the whims of the corporate CEOs of Toronto. He's a puppet, along with May. Layton's more like the court jester. Only Harper stands for human dignity.
Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-09-22 5:20:54 PM
We should be so lucky! Unfortunately the track record of the present government is anything but what Dion spouts.
By the way FC, people who oppose big collectivist government are not only libertarians but true conservatives. No, the government's role is NOT to bail people out. The role of government is to provide a stable and safe environment for people to help themselves.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-09-22 5:29:41 PM
"I do see the need for taxation"
Good. So you do support the use of force to take property away from people whether they like it or not. That's what I thought. So you and I and Dion all agree on this. So maybe you can dial back the libertarian talking points on this one, k?
"that doesn't mean that I can't object to taxation that is higher than needed."
No, it doesn't. But you didn't do that. You objected to the idea of the government "helping people". That is a rather different objection.
"Besides its not taxation that 'miffed' me here, it is his assumption that the state can make everything better."
If anyone is assuming, it's you. Dion did not say that the state can make everything better. He merely said that they can help. You assume too much. And you know what happens when you assume....
Me: "In fact, none of the party leaders have said anything that would indicate this. "
You: "He pretty clearly said that he wants to increase regulations. that is an expansion of the state."
Wow! Talk about taking a quote out of context! Reread my post. You will see the sentence you qoted here and supposedly respond to was one where I say that no party leader has said anything that indicates they are for controling everything. A reply about being for expansion still does not show any desire to control EVERYTHING. Lame response, Hugh.
"Fine but the way that Dion was talking about helping was about expansion. I again have to wonder if you watched the interview."
No, Hugh. I didn't see the interview. I was merely replying to how you first characterized it and then criticized it. If your criticisms don't fit your characterizations, that's your fault. Maybe next time you will accurately report that which you are criticizing. Because as it is your post reads as a rejection of helping people and accusations without basis of a desire to control everything. (He didn't really say that, did he? Because that would be dumb. Even dumber than suggesting he said it when he didn't, and that's pretty dumb.)
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-22 5:39:00 PM
"The role of government is to provide a stable and safe environment for people to help themselves."
I see. And is it helpful to people to provide that stable and safe environment? Yes? So you agree with Dion (as reported by Hugh) that government should help peopl? Excellent!
Also, just how does government "provide a stable and safe environment". By establishing rules in which people operate? So you are for regulation then? Excellent!
"By the way FC, people who oppose big collectivist government are not only libertarians but true conservatives."
I see. So you oppose BIG collectivist government, but support SMALL collectivist government. Excellent!
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-22 5:44:53 PM
Nice try FC but it is you who cannot grasp life without a collectivist welfare state. I stated that the government should not be in the business of "helping" people or businesses for that matter. Furthermore there is a big difference between basic rules/laws (against murder, theft, rape etc.) and the over regulation of people's lives which is just what we have and what you believe we must retain.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-09-22 5:56:22 PM
"So you do support the use of force to take property away from people whether they like it or not."
I don't get why you keep harping on this. Yes force has to be used to take propety from people to fund the police and courts. I pointed this out on my post because too often this fact isn't acknowledged. If you do ackowledge it than you can only use force in a way that would be morally justified, ie self protection or protection of others. Using force to directly give someone else money is not on the same moral level.
"You objected to the idea of the government "helping people""
No, if you read what I wrote you will see that I point out that the government CAN'T help people in the way that Dion is suggesting. At least not in the long term.
"Talk about taking a quote out of context! "
I don't think I did take it out of context, I may have simply been unclear. You say that they don't want to control everything and I say that they desire control. 'Everything' could be described as an exageration, but you can't deny that governments general wish to increase control. And that was the point of my response.
" I didn't see the interview"
Then how can you understand the context of my post?
"Because as it is your post reads as a rejection of helping people and accusations without basis of a desire to control everything."
First of all I reject the notion that the government is capable of helping in the way Dion claims not helping as a principle. Or do you believe only government can help people? Do you think people or incapable of helping eacho other?
I think I finally understand your confusion. I never claimed that Dion said he wanted to control everything. This is what I said "Why must governments insist that the world can only work if they control everything?" I was generalizing about the attitude of governments. Not suggesting that Dion had this as actually policy. I was suggesting, however, that Dion is contributing to this attitude.
Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2008-09-22 6:08:54 PM
I saw this so called interview with the man from France and Duffy...It seems to me that Dion is changing his tune on a daily basis ( Green Shift? never heard of it) Dion is an extreme Trudeauvian cultist and if he were to somehow "get back to power" he would simply continue down that path...What the hell is the Liberal platform? When ever I've seen Dion asked any question of substance ( which is almost never) he seems to get very defensive, rambles on incoherently and says things like "I didn't say that" "You don't hear me talk about the Green Shaft"...As for Duffy, he forgot to ask Mr. Dion what his favourite colour was... Any interview I've seen of Mr. Dion reminds me of his ridiculous answers at the Adscam, Gomery white wash..."Quebec"? never heard of it"... while looking around complacently... the man is hopeless and lucky to have a compliant media, it's hard to believe any one taking him seriously.
Posted by: Sean | 2008-09-22 7:46:46 PM
Dion does not like the fact the CPC has been giving back the taxpayers money (surplus). My money, not the governments. Governments should always be a break-even operation rather than using the public as a cash cow to be milked repeatedly. The PC GST used by the Libranos to pay the deficit and line their pockets does not make them any great budgeters.
Posted by: Guess What | 2008-09-23 9:00:43 PM
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