Friday, November 15, 2013

Harper’s hidden “starve the beast” agenda

Neo-con columnists from Maclean’s and the National Post are praising Harper’s efforts to “starve the beast.”

In case you’re not familiar with this morally-bankrupt strategy, it’s a 4 point program designed to destroy centrist government and bankrupt the social safety net:

  1. Implement reckless tax cuts.

  2. Manufacture a budget crisis.

  3. Justify deep cuts to spending.

  4. Go to 1.

Low tax, small government

Right-wing economist Stephen Gordon outlines Harper’s low-tax, small-government scam:

As I’ve written before, the Conservatives have applied the “starve the beast strategy”: First, cut taxes; second, cut spending in order to match lower revenues; third, obtain a balanced-budget for a smaller government. … And as each year passes, Canadians will get more and more used to the idea of a government with taxes lower than Diefenbaker’s.

John Ivison of the National Post says “draining the swamp” of big government with reckless tax cuts is foolproof. It puts the opposition in a tough spot: “The challenge is then issued — repeal our tax cuts or raise money by imposing your own tax hikes.”

Is it foolproof?

The Achilles heel of this reprehensible scheme is in the name itself, “starve the beast.” All it takes is for opposition leaders to raise awareness of what the Cons are doing. For example:

Mr. Speaker. Economist Stephen Gordon from Laval University says Stephen Harper has engaged in a “starve the beast” agenda. It’s a 4 point plan to bankrupt government and destroy the social safety net. I don’t recall the Harper Conservatives running on “starving the beast” back in 2011. Does Mr. Harper believe he has a mandate from voters to “starve the beast?”

The term “starve the beast” gets uglier the more you hear it. Opposition leaders should ensure it becomes a household phrase. Canadians will be aghast — and outraged — at what the Cons are doing.

In 2015, opposition leaders can run on stopping Harper and his “starve the beast” hidden agenda. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.


  1. You have correctly identified the key enabling objective of Harper’s real “hidden agenda”. It was never unrecognized by anyone who understood the man and the cult that trained him, and could remain undistracted by the red-herring of extreme social conservatism that his strategists marketed to the public.

    In the US, the market libertarian cult emerged from the closet long ago. Norquist and other operatives have proudly and successfully promoted the “Starve the Beast” project for years and they haven’t hesitated to use the term when bragging about their successes. In that country an audience of deluded freedom-fighters and liberty-loving rugged individualists was ready-made for exploitation by the cult leaders.

    Many of Harper’s supporters are in favour of the “Starve the Beast” proposition. They take for granted the benefits that they may or may not be aware are derived through government programmes. If a policy provides a benefit that others may require but which they don’t feel they need, then it’s “socialism”. Harper tells them that they are rugged individualists and that “socialists” are weak and should be treated with contempt. There is little hope of getting through to these people.

    Since most Canadians don’t seem to be familiar with the term “Starve the Beast”, your assessment may be correct. There may be an opportunity, through repetitive references to the term, to hammer the public into understanding the hypocrisy and lies at the root of the proposition. At the very least there would be some benefit in causing Harper to respond. At the same time, I have to remember that he’s the same guy who got away with referring to expression of concern over human rights as a “front for protectionism”.

    1. Good analysis. Thanks for the input.

      I think the neo-con tide which has plagued the world over the past 30 years, culminating in the 2008 global economic meltdown, has run its course. Now's the time to turn the tide.

      In my opinion, "starving the beast" is emblematic of all the failed free-market reforms that have caused such a mess: environmental degradation, towering levels of inequality and debt, economic instability and uncertainty, crumbling social and physical infrastructure, the end of rising living standards and children having it better than their parents.

      And for what? Because self-aggrandizing sociopaths can't get enough wealth and power? It's insane!

  2. You're welcome. I think us in the social media should try to make "starving the beast" a 2015 campaign issue. It'd be nice to see it on T shirts and bumper stickers. The best way to fight the con men is head on!


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