In 1946 George Orwell, the writer of 1984 wrote in his seminal Politics and the English Language that, “When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases … one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy, the appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain his not involved.”
But who is this Orwell? He probably took courses at university that were not tied to ‘performance outcomes’! He merely warned generations of the dangers of totalitarianism. Clearly not a man who was ‘open for business.’
Political ‘spin’ takes many forms. In a recent article in The Discussion, a former Australian PR director outlines 19 types of spin used by political operatives, including ‘the vomit principle’: “this rule of thumb is widely referred to in political offices. The idea is that if you repeat something so often you feel like vomiting, only then is it likely to be cutting through with the public.” For instance, “Folks, the carbon tax will cause a recession!”
A recent press release by our own MPP Laurie Scott on the evils of the carbon tax is a master class in spin. It doesn’t mention the existing provincial 14.7 cent/litre provincial gas tax, while ‘staying on message’: the much lower carbon tax will probably bankrupt us rural Ontarians! There is no mention that the carbon tax only exists in Ontario because the provincial government eliminated the cap and trade system.
The ‘quick facts’ explain that by 2022 the carbon tax will cost the average Ontario household $648, forgetting to mention that a family of four will receive a Climate Action Incentive of $718 when they file their taxes that year. The threat to healthcare posed by the carbon tax bogeyman is detailed, but there is no mention the myriad of studies and organizations that support carbon taxes as a way to mitigate the astronomical health costs caused by climate change.
Scott also repeats her government’s questionable claim that their climate plan will meet Paris Accord greenhouse reduction goals. It doesn’t mention that their targets are actually less ambitious than the previous plan, and that according to Climate Action Network, the increase in emissions from their plan is “greater than the emissions reductions Ontario experienced by shuttering all its coal plants in 2014.”
But in case the vomit principle isn’t working on you, you’ll soon see stickers at that gas pump to help you through the spin cycle.