The Wrecking Crew

My apologies for borrowing the title of this post from Thomas Frank’s book from a couple years ago, but I use it consciously as I think it bears repeating. Why? Because of the pathological danse macabre we insist on performing regularly with our neo-conservative partners and the corresponding amnesia that accompanies it which renders us oblivious to the resulting ugly outcome.

How’s the step go again, you ask forgetfully?

Decrying the state of affairs, politically, economically and/or socially, brought on by overweening and ineffectual (not to mention, elitist) liberal rule, conservatives roll into power on a magic carpet of faux-populism, complete with an easy to remember and entirely meaningless slogan or two. Once there, they proceed to trash the joint, politically, economically and/or socially before the citizens fully comprehend what’s happening and chase them from office. They then “retire” to the private sector (which in all likelihood they’ve helped to enrich) where they lick their wounds, change their outfits and, sooner or later, head back to the political ball for another twirl around the floor.

There was Reagan’s Morning in America where he enticed a weary populace to join him in a foxtrot. Twelve years later, victorious in the Cold War but already mired into increased conflict in the Middle East, the country was eye-deep in debt and much of the FDR New Deal/LBJ Great Society accomplishments, gutted and left for dead, and the political environment toxic. Enter centrist Democrat Bill Clinton who managed to wrestle the burgeoning deficit bomb into a more manageable shape (largely on the back of his most vulnerable base) while, if not fully restoring social programs directed at the most vulnerable of his base, got them back onto life support. A semblance of order restored, give way to George W. Bush, neocon sweetheart, and 8 years later, Iraq, Afghanistan, surpluses ballooned into huge deficits, tax cuts galore and everybody for themselves. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Up here, a very similar pattern. Early-90s, Conservative debts and deficits reign (although to some eyes, strangely, it’s all because of Pierre Trudeau despite 9 years of PC majority rule), the country faces a constitutional crisis. Liberals are elected in a landslide and over the course of the next decade+, they bring the fiscal unruliness to heel (largely on the back of their most vulnerable base) and establish a semblance of political and social order. Hello neocons and… you know where this is going, right? Unnecessary tax cuts, financial crisis hits, here we are again, back in the red and the public sector’s going to have to tighten its belt and prepared to make do with less. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Ditto in Ontario with a slight variation. Left of centre government hit with a nasty recession seeks to spread the pain around (some of it on the back of their base) and is summarily drummed from office, crushed under the pleasingly simply Common Sense Revolution. These fiscally prudent Conservatives (some key members who go on to lay waste to Ottawa) don’t really clean up the economic mess they claimed to have found. They just sort of move it around a little, cut taxes (natch) and eviscerate provincial and municipal infrastructure for good measure. As usual, they’re chased from office two terms later having inflicted maximum public damage. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Now comes Rob Ford to Toronto. A career politician who never saw a tax increase he couldn’t rail about or a government expenditure that didn’t taste like gravy, he bellowed for months on the campaign trail about waste and fiscal mismanagement at City Hall. (Sound familiar?) Citing big numbers with little context and oodles of anecdotal evidence of ‘corruption’, he got himself elected on a vow to Stop the Gravy Train and to usher in an era of Respect for Taxpayers. Meaning? Cutting and/or freezing taxes. ‘Trimming the fat’ and uncovering ‘inefficiencies’ in the system. No more nickel and diming taxpayers to death.

But an altogether predictable thing happened on his way to his first budget proposal. The supposed fiscal ineptitude of his predecessor left Mayor Ford with a shit load of money in which to fill the cavernous gaps left exposed by all the tax freezes and cuts riddling the budget document. So much money, in fact, that any major slashing and burning of services could wait a year. Only a year, mind you. There would be a serious reckoning. You’d be foolhardy to think otherwise.

We know how this story plays out, people. We’ve seen it enough. The ending’s never happy and expecting this time it’ll be different, well, you’ve just defined ‘crazy’. Neoconservative politicians are incapable of leaving a place looking better than when they found it. It’s not in their nature. In fact, they can’t help doing the exact opposite of good stewardship. They are terrible tenants. So let’s stop expecting them to be anything but.

It’s almost as if we’re trapped in some lurid abusive relationship with neo-conservatism. It constantly lies to us, takes our money and spends it on its rich girlfriends. Whenever we speak up and complain, it smacks us around some to keep us in our place and issues threats about how good we have it. You think you got it bad, huh? How’d you like to be living somewhere in Africa instead? Huh?

Even when we break free of its grip for awhile, we’re eventually lured back in with its sweet song of contrition and promises of better behaviour in the future. I’ve learned my lesson, baby. Trust me. I won’t ever hurt you again.

We really have to break free of such a self-defeating and sadistic cycle before the damage inflicted becomes irreparable.

once more with feelingly submitted by Cityslikr

22 Responses to The Wrecking Crew

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Burrell. Greg Burrell said: RT @cityslikr: Seems we write about this a lot but it bears repeating as we just don't seem to be getting it. http://wp.me/pHJxs-R4 #TOpoli […]

  2. Peter MacQuarie says:

    “The supposed fiscal ineptitude of his predecessor left Mayor Ford with a shit load of money ”

    I read as far as this. What a load of crap you like to post here. It’s very obvious that you are quite inexperienced. DM wasn’t inept, he was arrogant, aloof and detached. The surplus had nothing at all to do with DM or Council. It came from incorrect assumptions in the budget process of last year.

    You’re way out of your depth on this stuff. You’re good at being a pinko elite and that’s about it. But, for a gripper that’s all right. A job would be better. Try getting one, you have way too much time on your hands.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke think you’ve just revealed the source of all the banal non-sequiturs you contribute to this comments section. You never read a post all the way through, distracted at the first word, phrase or sentence that offends or confuses you or that you simply don’t agree with. Lacking any full context, you simply fire off statements that are usually nothing more than abject nonsense. “The surplus had nothing at all to do with DM or Council”?!?!
      Who or what did it have to do with, then? Who made the incorrect assumptions?

      On the other hand, this particular egregiously obtuse comment you made marked the 1000th comment posted on our site. We had planned on giving away fabulous prizes to the lucky winner but it seems a waste to reward such a dick. A gormless (still too English for you?) dick lacking any self-awareness whatsoever. Better luck next time!

    • Tom says:

      Who has too much time on their hands and needs to get a real job? Take a look in the mirror Peter and stop your inane blathering.

  3. towriter says:

    Peter, you also seem to have a lot of time on your hands to read up on the daily posts here and make daily comments, no?

    • Peter MacQuarie says:

      towriter, no, I don’t have a lot of time but I allocate it wisely. I come here to challenge some of the hyperbole and histrionics posted by the elite pinkos of AFUITBS. It’s a pity you can’t find something more interesting to comment on. Are you feeling sorry for citysliikr?

  4. mcflash says:

    Funny how you can use ‘histrionics’ and ‘hyperbole’ in the same sentence as ‘elite pinkos’. I hope you didn’t type that with a straight face.

  5. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Why mcflash, are you a RF supporter? That would be funny. However, I suspect you’re simply feeling sorry for the writers at AFUITBS. They don’t like it when somebody criticises their posts.

  6. Sonny Yeung says:

    Peter you are like a negative distraction. See Mayor Ford make the rookie mistake of having a fare hike introduced just to flip flop. The $16 million will come from savings from the Police Budget; that is allowed to rise 2% despite the threat of heads rolling. RF promised 100 new officers with the Police Board plan 200-220 will quit or retire and not be replaced! You sir are more of a projection of the Palins & the Tea Party. Fortunately we don’t have Democrats for you and your ilk to go to town…

  7. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Sonny, I’m delighted to see you raise the standard of your posts – keep it up.

    How is criticising AFUITBS a negative distraction? Do you not like criticism either? Surely you must get lost of it?

    I don’t believe RF “introduced” a fare hike. I see Kouvalis, Toews and Stintz’s hands in that fiasco more than RF’s hand. Regardless of the accuracy of your contention, it has given the pinko elites something to write about.

    Perception is reality but RF doesn’t seem to have a problem with the image some paint of him. He made to Mayor in spite of the pinko elites characterising him as a fat fool for 10 months. The kind of stuff I expect to see from the likes of Palin and the Tea Party folks.

    I didn’t expect much from RF’s first 5 minutes in office. He’s a rookie afterall. I think you need to govern your expectations somewhat. They’re quite naive and unrealistic. RF had very little experience with Council matters, especially over the last 7 years when DM deemed him to be a non-entity. (Shows you how out of touch DM was, eh?)

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      Conjecture, conjecture, conjecture, sprinkled with a touch of What The Fuck Are You Talking About?! How can you possibly claim anyone who’s been a sitting on council for 10 years to be a rookie? Ohhhh, poor Rob Ford. Ignored by that meanie, David Miller (was no big ally of Mel Lastman’s either). How’s he to know how City Hall works? Nobody let him play before!

      Why don’t you drop all the pretense of being an objective observer and just come out and admit that you are a non-thinking, ideologically hidebound, slavish Rob Ford supporter? It’ll make it that much easier for you, not having to twist yourself with the pretzel logic of pretending otherwise.

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke do salute you, however, for you boldness in adopting the language of such a talented wordsmith and deep thinker as Don Cherry. It certainly has elevated your level of discourse.

  8. Matt Elliott says:

    Very good post. I’ve noticed a similar thing in regards to the cyclical nature of conservatism. People seem very willing to allow themselves to be duped by promises of simple solutions to complex issues – lower taxes to fix the economy; privatize services to lower costs; deregulate to improve safety; etc. – even though these strategies have a proven record of failure.

    Ford is little more than another kick at the same can.

    • Peter MacQuarie says:

      You don’t think that’s a bit of an exaggeration? The majority of voters are duped on a regular basis? Sometimes it is simply that the previous administration was ineffective and the majority voted them out. In the case of RF being elected there wasn’t much to pick from. He got in because the others were ineffective, or unsuitable. Sometimes the issues are not at all complex. Again, in RF’s case, the City was spending beyond its means, lacking in transparency and debating issues that should not have been on the table. David Miller was incapable (or uninterested) in communicating effectively. Citizens believed simple solutions were available.

      Lower taxes do help economies and there’s ample evidence of financial disaster throughout government-run systems. David Miller’s promises weren’t fulfilled which could mean voters were duped then too.

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

        “Lower taxes do help economies and there’s ample evidence of financial disaster throughout government-run systems.”

        Unlike the ‘financial disaster’ we’re currently living through, brought to us by non-government-run systems? Or are you going to tell us the crisis is somehow the government’s fault?

        We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke think that once again you’ve submitted a reply before fully thinking through what you were saying.

  9. Peter MacQuarie says:

    RF was ignored by DM? Wow, that’s news to me. I thought RF just put in some time under the dome but mostly spent his time returning phone calls. I know he got little experience in committees because Miller filled them with sycophants. Anyway, I bet he was largely ignorant on what it might involve being Mayor.

    You wouldn’t know an objective observer if it showed up with your dole cheque. You’re just annoyed that somebody has dared to criticise you. Pinko elites are like that.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      “RF had very little experience with Council matters, especially over the last 7 years when DM deemed him to be a non-entity.”

      Your words. Is that different from being ignored?

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke wonder if you even listen to yourself writing. If not, it may explain most of your comments.

      And you do love the word ‘sycophant’. Was it a word on your new 2011 Don Cherry thesaurus calendar?

  10. Peter MacQuarie says:

    What’s different is that you admit DM ignored another member of Council. That leads me to believe RF came through the last 7 years with less experience than he might have obtained if he’d been one of Miller’s sycophants.

    I don’t follow Don Cherry and I’m not a fan of his by any means but he sure knew how to wind up you lot of pinko elites.

  11. mcflash says:

    Whereas Ford has certainly not filled his committees with sycophants, right? If Miller did as you assert, at least all areas of the city were represented by at least one councillor. If you can find a downtown councillor on any of Ford’s committees, then by gum I’d like to see them.

    • Peter MacQuarie says:

      What a stupid thing to say, of course he has! (What planet have you been on?)

      RF is very like DM in that respect. Unfortunately RF had to stack some committees with people he’s not at all fond of, like Karen Stintz and Minnan-Wong, until he gets his wish to reduce Council to 22 members. That’s his goal.

      I don’t subscribe to the kind of tribalism you advocate. Let’s run the City with professionals not petty politicians like those who attacked RF personally and who refused to work within his administration – mostly pinko elites from downtown TO.

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear AFUITBS Commenters,

        We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are writing to you with a Jimmy Wales style plea. No, it’s not for money. We are asking you to enter into a pact with us.

        For the last few months or so, we have attempted to engage with one Peter MacQuarie in a debate of ideas, as have many of you. A fun, lively back-and-forth between two camps that clearly agree on very, very little. The basis of rational political discourse, yes?

        But our efforts have born no fruit. It’s painfully obvious to us here that Mr. MacQuarie has no interest in debating issues or participating in reasonable dialogue. Some have labeled him just another mindless troll, looking for any opportunity to vent his drivel and see his name in print. Being no psychologists, we withhold our judgment on the motivations of individuals such as Mr. MacQuarie. Whatever they may be, his regular presence here has become a nuisance, never rising above anything other than personal vitriol and tiresome school yard name calling that, unfortunately, we’ve allowed ourselves to partake in at times.

        The easiest course of action would be to ban him from commenting here which, Mr. MacQuarie has dared us to do on a number of occasions, suggesting that ours is not the first site subject to his solid wall of incoherent babbling. We hesitate to take such action as it would only feed into his wildly misplaced superiority complex and deliver upon the world yet another condescending right winger who thinks he’s bested the nasty pinko elites who clearly haunt his every waking moment. That’s a burden we’re not prepared to shoulder. Yet.

        So instead we ask that you join us in simply not engaging with anything Peter MacQuarie writes from this point forward. Regardless of the bile he sends our way, the ridiculous simplistic, fetid opinions that only make sense to the closed minds of his political persuasion, do not react or respond. Just like we do with those who stand on the street, shouting to heavens.

        Or like the fun game we like to play with 2 year-olds when we want to freak them out. Pretend that they’re not in the room and that you can’t see them. Eventually (fingers crossed), Mr. MacQuarie will realize that no one’s paying him any attention or taking anything he writes seriously and he will tearfully slink back to resume his regular masturbatory practices in his basement, cursing all those who don’t see the world exactly as he does. We will then be able to get back to talking like adults.

        Thank you.

  12. Peter MacQuarie says:

    cityslikr, yes the easy marks in the current financial meltdown were out of control institutions, both private and public. I subscribe to the belief all of our current financial crisis started with Bill Clinton’s policies of the 1990s. I’m guessing you don’t understand that stuff, you never having had a real job in the real world and you being a David Miller groupie and all that.

    There’s ample evidence of financial disaster throughout government-run systems, regardless of what your closed mind thinks.

  13. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Well, there’s no surprise that cityslkr demeans criticism of his posts. That’s typical of the high-jackers on the left today. They see our democratic process as one that should be beholden to their vacuous ideology.

    cityslkr needs to learn to butt-out if he wants a career as a blogger. He has a lot more to learn too and he won’t get there by shutting down debate. Let visitors comment here and let the dialogue flow. If you rate me dumb and stupid, like you characterise the vast majority of Torontonians, just learn to shut your mouth.

    Remember too, try to make your posts more readable. They’re too full of “technique”.

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