Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Things I Can Live Without: Ideology

The following was submitted to the Ottawa Sun as a letter to the editor.
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Re: Conservative view of Flaherty legacy, April 16

Ideology is an invitation to stop thinking for yourself, and can lead to intellectual dishonesty. Witness John Robson as he reflexively gags on the notion that Keynesian economics helped see our country out of the financial crisis.  “As a conservative doctrinaire,” he writes, “I still think those deficits harmed us.”

Merriam-Webster defines ‘doctrinaire’ as “one who attempts to put into effect an abstract doctrine or theory with little or no regard for practical difficulties.” It would seem Mr. Robson wishes we had put ideological purity ahead of the economic well-being of our country.

When he tries to convince us that John Maynard Keynes got it wrong, is he telling us the truth as he sees it based on careful analysis, or is he simply upholding a dogma at any cost? (Keynes predicted that the severity of reparations imposed on Germany would result in chaos in Europe. As the subsequent rise of Hitler teaches us, he most certainly got it right.)

As for other countries’ stimulus spending, he doesn’t consider whether it was sensibly applied, nor does he consider mitigating factors. The problems with the United States’ economy, for example, run too deep to assume a direct correlation between the size of a stimulus-incurred deficit and the extent of the recovery.

Any practical conservative would agree that we need clear-headed pragmatists with a wider view to guide us to prosperity, and not knee-jerk zealotry.

James Deagle
Ottawa