I’ve been looking for a permanent job recently, and one of the listings which regularly pops up is one looking to hire a consultant to help companies apply for government grants. If the thought of filling out paperwork as a full time job didn’t give me hives, the idea of working to wring money from the taxpayer for private benefit makes me want to wretch.
But it ties in nicely to how Timmy has managed, in spite of himself, to fall ass-backwards into illustrating a totally legitimate point. In stumping around the province announcing his plans to end corporate welfare, he’s been thus far unable to actually find a business to serve as a backdrop which isn’t itself on the dole. Which, to read the press coverage, is all very humiliating for him, and no doubt it is a bit awkward, but mainly because he sort of whiffs when he’s asked questions about it.
Contrary to what many supporters of the Conservatives think, much of the press probably isn’t as ideologically committed to activist government as it may appear. What they are committed to are things that involve them. They’re narcissistic that way. (Aren’t we all?) So if the ‘economy’ starts to wheeze a bit, they expect the government to do something. Something that involves press releases, plans (MOAR FIVE-YEAR PLANS!!!), and giant novelty checks. MPs and MPPs and CEOs to make statements and give interviews. ‘Area men’ to comment on the proceedings and lend local colour. Suggest to either the press or the politicians that that’s not how healthy economies function and the response is likely to be sad bewilderment, like Rob Ford confronted with a salad bar.
Federally, the Tories finessed the problem by introducing an “Economic Action Plan”, which as far as I could tell was mostly about putting up big blue signs and running ads to convince the proles that every filled pothole, every refurbished bridge, and every re-shingled curling rink was part of some master plan and not routine infrastructure maintenance that they should be doing anyways. (Or not. Federal funds for very local things like curling rinks?) But they also had the benefit of a global recession which made their own numbers look reasonably good by comparison and a healthy energy sector keeping things from going too pear-shaped. Ontario isn’t so lucky.
What we need is someone to cut off the corporate welfare and handouts and and trim back the general economic idiocy (*cough* green energy) without the press going into full rage mode about ‘austerity’, and the only way to do that is to keep the press distracted by something else. What we need is a premier with his act together enough to run the administrative branch effectively, but also committed to a steady stream of tawdry sex scandals to fill up the front pages and the evening news so people don’t notice the public teat is looking less fulsome than before.
Of course you can’t run openly on that platform. But it seems to have worked once before.