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It's always unfortunate when a public personality starts to go senile, especially at the young age of 72. It's sad because as a public personality, we're all witness to the breakdown of their mental capacity. This must be what's happening with Preston Manning. I can't explain his actions otherwise. Here are the top three reasons why I think Preston Manning has lost it.
First he endorses and helps facilitate the crossing over of Wildrose MLAs to the Progressive Conservative Party. Then he apologies for it, because that's not compatible with democracy. He compared the Wildrose defections to “uniting the right” like he did when the Alliance merged with the federal Progressive Conservatives. But after polls showed how unpopular this action was, Manning issued an official apology.
Whereas the merger of the Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party “involved a democratic process of discussion with grassroots members, several consultative referendums, large conferences on principles and policy, a vote on acceptance or rejection by party members, and ultimately subjecting the results to electors in the 2000 federal election” says Manning in a Facebook post, the Wildrose defection took none of these characteristics. It was a back-room deal that politics is often loathed over.
“My failure to strongly recommend a similar process to the Wildrose caucus was a mistake on my part,” Manning wrote in the post. As in: Oops. My bad. Won't happen next time I swear.
Now this could be forgiven if Manning wasn't already committed to political suicide. Last month he decided to pen an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail about carbon taxes. Not only on why he thinks pricing carbon is a good idea, but how to “communicate” this good idea. In other words, how to fool your constituents into accepting something they don't want.
This shouldn't be surprising coming from a politician, but the fact he openly published this in one of the most syndicated newspapers in the country only goes to reiterate the thesis of this piece: Preston Manning is senile.
Manning writes to... well, essentially anyone who bothered to read his piece that politicians should: “Avoid using the word “tax” in conjunction with pricing pollution or greenhouse gas emissions...the public understanding of a tax is government constantly reaching into their pockets to fund services, programs and bureaucracy. Proposals accompanied by more taxes are invariably greeted with hostility, not acceptance.”
Now I understand if this was in a private e-mail, but broadcasting this message to the masses is just downright stupid. He's literally telling everyone what politicians will try to do and what they will say when implementing a carbon tax. So perhaps my assessment is wrong and Manning hasn't gone senile. He's just warning the public on how the government will try to introduce another tax.
Nevertheless, he does support pricing carbon. Instead of a true conservative opinion, such as protecting private property rights to their fullest extent (i.e. pollution is a violation of property), he's telling politicians how to implement a carbon tax by calling it something else.
“Ask, 'Out of whose mouth will our message be most credible?'”
Since nobody trusts politicians, political staff or lobbyists, advocates for a carbon tax need to find some other salesman to fool the public into accepting this scheme.
“In selling an unfamiliar concept or policy solution,” says Manning, “start where the public’s head is, not where yours is.”
Manning's example is thinking local and acting local and having that add up to something global. I like the idea behind this, since if taken to its logical conclusion, this means that all governments and taxes should be decentralized and as local as possible. But this isn't what Manning is talking about. He means point out local environmental issues and exploit the public's fear of the unknown to sell an unpopular idea.
“Be honest about the ultimate costs to consumers.”
Well at least Manning is honest in his old senile age. He doesn't try to BS us into thinking that a carbon tax will be revenue neutral. He admits that no tax ever is. “It’s we consumers who will pay – as well we should, if we truly value environmental protection.”
“Be balanced – Canadians love balance.”
Or just give the illusion of balance. We've had a balance of capitalism and socialism for over 70 years now, but the weights have shifted toward socialism. Just like Ludwig von Mises said it would. And the fact that this pro-carbon tax message (and how to fool the public into accepting it) is coming from a “conservative” of the former Alliance party only goes to show how right Murray Rothbard was when he wrote,
“In fact, one of the reasons that the conservative opposition to collectivism has been so weak is that conservatism, by its very nature, offers not a consistent political philosophy but only a “practical” defense of the existing status quo, enshrined as embodiments of the American “tradition.” Yet, as statism grows and accretes, it becomes, by definition, increasingly entrenched and therefore “traditional”; conservatism can then find no intellectual weapons to accomplish its overthrow.”
My final reason for calling Preston Manning senile is his unshakable support for democracy. He's the Founder, President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. And yes, that means he named the organization after himself. His support for democracy isn't that crazy considering how democracy is the civic religion of our age. To go against this would be actually to commit political and social suicide. Supporting a carbon tax is just the next wave in conservatism, and Manning is leading the charge.
Nevertheless, somebody who believes in the ideals of democracy shouldn't actually support the existing democratic state. When most people hear the words democracy, they likely conjure up images of liberty and freedom. But in actuality democracy is the worst form of government out there. We'd be better off under benign dictators than democratic leaders.
But don't take my word for it, consider the sheer piercing logic of Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
“Predictably, under democratic conditions the tendency of every monopoly - to increase prices and decrease quality - will be only more pronounced. Instead of a prince who regards the country as his private property, a temporary caretaker is put in charge of the country. He does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his proteges’ advantage. He owns its current use - usufruct - but not its capital stock. This will not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it will make exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock, i.e., short-sighted. Moreover, the perversion of justice will proceed even faster now. Instead of protecting pre-existing private property rights, democratic government becomes a machine for the redistribution of existing property rights in the name of illusory `social security.’
“The American model – democracy – must be regarded as a historical error, economically as well as morally. Democracy promotes shortsightedness, capital waste, irresponsibility, and moral relativism. It leads to permanent compulsory income and wealth redistribution and legal uncertainty. It is counterproductive. It promotes demagoguery and egalitarianism. It is aggressive and potentially totalitarian internally, vis-à-vis its own population, as well as externally. In sum, it leads to a dramatic growth of state power, as manifested by the amount of parasitically – by means of taxation and expropriation – appropriated government income and wealth in relation to the amount of productively – through market exchange – acquired private income and wealth, and by the range and invasiveness of state legislation. Democracy is doomed to collapse, just as Soviet communism was doomed to collapse.”
These three reasons – support for the Wildrose defection, support for a carbon tax, and support for democracy – is why I think Preston Manning has gone senile. In addition to supporting a carbon tax, he openly instructed politicians on how to sell the idea to Canadians. Not in a private e-mail that was hacked and exposed, but openly in a opinion piece published by the Globe and Mail with his consent.
If that's not senile, I don't know what is.