Saturday, March 21, 2009

To Insanity and Beyond!

Gary Goodyear and Canada's Delusional Public Policy

Canada recently had a federal election in which the (minority) conservative government had no platform. Also featured were an economic platform of doing nothing, an Afghanistan strategy of continuing whatever it is we're doing but with no idea why, and a climate-change policy of trying to figure out what Washington is going to do and then sucking up without changing anything in Alberta.

There's a pattern here. It's like Henry Chickenhawk determined to bring home a chicken because his dad told him to, although he had no idea what a chicken was or what to do with it when he found one.

Likewise, Canadian public policy is now overtaken by an intense desire to be in charge of chickens, or it could be elephants, but we've no idea why, or what we're going to do with them. We're desperately trying to see which way the wind is blowing -- chickens? elephants? -- and impatiently wait for instructions from somebody cool like Obama, or Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Buehler.....anybody? The idea that we can think for ourselves seems to be a difficult concept in Ottawa. And independent thought is precisely what we need to avoid a lemming like leap into a very deep pit being dug by NATO.

In addition to a lack of economic policy, lack of climate change policy, and lack of foreign policy other that what we can pick up in Brussels, Canada has no science policy. Nevertheless, we are keenly ambitious to get a seat on the Security Council, although we have no United Nations policy worth talking about, and to insert a Canadian as head of NATO, which would be absurd since NATO appears already to determine Canadian foreign policy. In short, the government of the day is out to lunch.

As a stunningly clear example of that, we have Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, who met with a group he should be naturally sympathetic to, The Canadian Association of University Teachers, and by all reports took a hissy fit and stomped off when the positive message he wanted to convey was disputed. This is not encouraging. Subsequently, there have been discussions about whether Gary "believes" in evolution.

What seems stone-cold totally obvious, no matter whether Gary believes that the universe is run by a cosmic jelly bean or what, is that the methodology of science works, that it is one method of searching unflinchingly for truth, and there is no other way to understanding the world, or designing helicopters that stay in the air, than an unflinching search for truth. It also leads to technology (like Research in Motion) and should be vigorously championed by the Minister for Science.

This interest in the truth is conspicuously, horribly, lacking in the current government in Ottawa, and in the ISAF Public Affairs Department at NATO, who would be better suited to designing a new Disneyworld in Kabul.

[March 22 Update; A CEO for Kabul Disneyworld is to be announced March 31, at a conference allegedly organized by the United Nations in The Hague. You just can't make this stuff up. If that happens, wouldn't every legal assumption for "UN-mandated troops" in Afghanistan be invalidated? If the UN Security Council approves it, it would be a United Nations occupation of Afghanistan.]

Finally, we have Canada's economic policy, which is basically selling raw material to the rest of the world, the mysterious part of the world that Magically Makes Things, which return to Canada as finished consumer products from overseas, a sort of Cargo Cult that grips us such that we cannot even think that we could do the manufacturing ourselves, and be relatively self-sufficient. As far as I can see, we've got everything we need except cotton, tropical fruit....

... and an assertively healthy political imagination.