Monday, February 07, 2011

Andrew Coyne is What Happens When You Unleash a Republican-Style Troll on Canadians

He spouts unbelievable torrents of absolute liquid BS, but everybody's too nice to call him out on it.

Case in point: The last page of the article where he's advocating toll roads. (He has also advocated privatizing public transit, but never mind that.) He makes a whole load of absolutely unsupported and likely unsupportable conclusions. Let's go down the list:

1)Nobody cares about privacy because people use phones;
2)Poor people don't have cars in the first place;
3)Tax Credits would be a fine solution for people who can't afford to get to work TODAY;
4)Toll roads would make public transit pay for itself;
5)Transit Vehicles "speed up when tolls are imposed" (Subway riders would be amused by this, but Coyne also despises rail and believes all should ride buses);
6)This howler:

If getting more people to use transit is your aim, moreover, subsidies are the last thing you should want. The biggest factor in people’s decision whether to use transit is not the fares, but rather the speed, comfort and convenience relative to other options: that is, the passenger experience. And the surest means of forcing transit operators to pay more attention to the passenger experience is if their livelihoods depend on it. The greater the share of revenues paid for by passengers themselves, the more operators are likely to be lying awake at night thinking up ways to put bums in the seats; subsidies simply insulate them from that concern.
Now, this may be true. It may not be. But we certainly have no REASON to think any of it is true. Even if the transit operator were privatized, most sane people know that relatively few natural monopolists (which is what transit is) "lay awake at night thinking up ways to put bums in seats"; for those that do, why should they stop simply because they receive subsidies? Coyne's industry receives massive subsidies—does that mean that he doesn't give a tinker's damn about the circulation of his little rag?

(Do YOU not give a damn about the cost of mass transit when and if you use it?)

That is, I think, one of the enduring differences between the Canadian and American online media scene. While there is a lot wrong with the American blogosphere, I can be reasonably confident that someone like Coyne would be constantly assailed by people who are carving him up and serving his chunks as object lessons in what you cannot get away with in 2011. But, instead, this guy has a sinecure on Canadian public television, for God's sake, where he does little more than act the token conservative who gets all angry that the government isn't right-wing enough.

Even Kady O'Malley, someone whom I respect quite a bit, gets all chummy with him on Twitter, exhorting people to follow the old hack as if he needs any MORE of an audience. Collegiality should have its limits.

As much as I'm not terribly fond of how the Huffington Post's owners have become fabulously wealthy off of the backs of unpaid labor, at least you could rest assured that somebody at Huffpo would tear this guy up. In the UK, they'd probably tear his heart out and show it to him. But in the True North? Not so much. Unfortunate.

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