Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Masters of Mendacity

"“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,

people will eventually come to believe it."

-attributed to Jospeh Goebbels

"Follow the Money."
-Deep Throat

The Fraser Institute continued it's long and faithful service to Canada's business community in 2006 with a series of 'studies' on everything from healthcare and the environment, to education and basically any public sector effort to protect citizens from crushing poverty that might infringe in any way on the excesses of big business.

For example last month they released their annual report on Canada's government debt, designed to create public alarm about rising levels of government debt and push for severe cuts to health and social spending.

As is usual for Fraser Institute releases, it's full of punchy media friendly pull quotes implying that fiscal armageddon is right around the corner and that the only solution is to burn Canada's social safety net to ashes and replace every public sector enterprise with profitable private sector ones.

Promoting such a radical program naturally requires a pattern of blatant misrepresentation of the facts verging on outright lies.

It requires both useful idiots and cynical propagandists in a compliant media - owned by huge conglomerates and family empires - eager to uncritically report scare stories that promote a free market uber alles meme that is of direct financial benefit to them.

And of course, promoting such a counter-intuitive and selfish program takes money.

Money from Exxon Mobile to pay for global warming denial, money from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to finance a relentless promotion of private health care through a steady stream of deceptive and alarmist pronouncements about our public system. Money from and to Conservative political movements in Canada and the US.

They've even taken money from big tobacco to deny the health dangers of smoking. If you've got the cash they'll carry your water - they are simply ideological shouters for hire.

Much of their careful misinformation, particularly on social programs like universal health care, seems intended for an American audience as much or more than it is for Canadians. The American articles invariably use the Fraser Institutes alarmist ad hoc attacks to argue that universal health care in Canada is a failure that Canadians bitterly oppose - a mistake that Americans should avoid making themselves.

That the overwhelming majority of Canadians look at the American experience with big pharma/big insurance company gangster model healthcare and shudder, is kept from the American public. The fact that even the most right wing Canadian politicians in the most right wing of regions of Canada cannot openly attack universality safely is oddly never mentioned in these screeds at all.

When will Canada's mainstream media start treating the Fraser Institute as what it is: Simply a sophisticated PR firm with a conscious strategy of presenting bought and paid for propaganda as serious studies, and deliberate distortions as facts?

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