The thin gruel of politics

George Smitherman has again failed to produce his promised glorious 10-Year Plan for saving health care in Ontario. It’s like sitting in a fancy restaurant with a mouth-watering menu and great prices but whatever you order you invariably get a long delay and a bunch of excuses — and then they chuck deep-fried leftovers on your plate and charge you double. While you can change waiters and cooks once every four years, it seems you can never leave.

In a speech to the Cato Institute this spring, P.J. O’Rourke explained that while he actually knows and likes many politicians, “The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the cookbook. The key ingredient of politics is the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. It’s like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it. The fruit cocktail is fried. The soup is fried. The salad is fried. So is the ice cream and cake. And your pinot noir is rolled in breadcrumbs and dunked in the deep fat fryer.”

Because government is force, it can do the things that need to be done through force, often very effectively: fight crime, beat Hitler, make people pay taxes — just as a fast-food restaurant can often make a great burger and fries when that’s what you want. Unfortunately at Chez Gouvernement, where they don’t just insist on frying everything including the ice cream but they promise they can also bake, roast, sautée and serve raw, you don’t simply get an unhealthy diet, you get deceived.

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