20 May 2016

A different kind of P3

Paul Lane won Mount Pearl-Southlands in 2015 by a mere 241 votes.

In 2011, he won a seat in the House of Assembly by 700 votes.

Anyone who tells you Paul Lane is a popular politician hasn't looked at the facts.
Lane isn't a popular politician at all. A popular politician would be able to influence his constituents. They would trust his judgement.  You can tell Lane is neither popular nor influential because he would not explain a simple set of facts to the good people of Mount Pearl-Southlands.  All Lane had to do was explain that the crowd he used to support ran the place so far up on the rocks that the crowd he started to hang with in 2014 have had to raise taxes to cope with the mess.

Unable to do that for some unknown reason, Paul Lane told the government crowd on Wednesday that he was going to vote against the government budget. But Lane said he wanted to sit with the government caucus he no longer supported so that he could keep collecting his extra salary as the deputy chair of committees. When the Liberals kicked him out, Lane moaned about how it was a terrible day for democracy because he wasn't able to speak out.

What garbage.  In that whine, Lane confirmed his announcement Wednesday had nothing to do with principle or speaking on behalf of his people. Lane is still able to speak as a member of the House. He just doesn't get to collect his entitlement and fatten his pension.

Meanwhile, lots of people  - especially those on the political left - are rushing to claim Paul Lane as their hero. He is brave.  He is the start of a growing movement.  Paul Lane is none of those things just like he is not popular or influential.

Paul Lane is a politician in the usual mold around these parts.  He is especially typical of politicians who knew little of anything before they got elected after 2003. The political style of the time was P3:  pork and pandering for popularity. That was the secret to Conservative popularity, especially once the oil money started flowing in. They spent and spent to keep people happy so they would keep voting for them.

The other two parties went along with what the Conservatives were doing because it was popular. Now the New Democrats and the Conservatives are doing what they think is popular.  The Liberals are actually avoiding doing as much unpopular stuff as they can.  People might not be able to see that but you can see it  if you just look at what they've actually said and done.

The levy was actually supposed to be a good idea, you know.  The Liberals just frigged up the explanation so now people are opposed to it even though half of them will pay very little if anything.  You see, about half the people who file taxes in any year make less than $30,000.  All together, those folks only pay about five percent of all the government's income tax revenue.

But anyway, the levy is based on taxable income, not total income.  Someone making $30,000 a year with $11,000 in deductions would have less taxable income than the threshold of $20,000. They'd pay no levy at all. Even without deductions, they'd still pay the least of all.

None of that matters because people are just riled up. They are so riled up they scared  brave Paul Lane so hard he crapped his pants right out of his entitlements. The opposition parties are feeding off that anger.  The New Democrats and Conservatives are bitter at the Liberals for winning. They are enjoying the public anger because it is their bit of payback. While the Dippers have no interest in actually forming a government, the Tories think they can get back in power quickly.

That's why Paul Davis shifted his whole crowd to the opposition office at their old, fat salaries. They are short-staffed as a result.  They have even kept Sandy Collins at a fat salary just so he can troll Twitter. They think that sort of stuff has an impact because once upon a time that sort of nonsense worked on voters.  It doesn't any more, especially when the Conservatives' best shot Steve Kent.  But none of that matters because the blue crowd and the orange crowd are really bitter at the red crowd and watching the red crowd shag up makes the blue folks and the orange folks feel good. Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador is like an Italian parliament but without the intellectual depth, the moral integrity, or the strippers.

In 2004, Danny Williams said that "the financial health of the Province is not the government’s problem [alone, but] it should be the concern of every one of its 519,000 residents."  He talked about the need for a "an accountable and strategically-minded government" that would "make the responsible choices" needed to get the province on solid ground again.

The financial problem that prompted him to make that statement was about one third the size of the one Williams and his successors left the current administration to deal with this year alone. That will put everything in perspective for you.  With and even greater financial burden still in front of us, the best someone like Paul Lane could talk about was his personal discomfort at taking a few angry emails from folks in his district.

When you look at it that way,  the word brave is hardly what comes to mind.