Sunday, 15 March 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Jim Flaherty Edition

So there I was, minding other people's business at Luxe restaurant in the Byward Market of a Tuesday evening, when who should drag his knuckles in but our own Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, accompanied by a not unattractive young woman.

The squat, shrunken-apple headed poltroon seemed in a festive mood, no doubt inwardly glowing with pride at having kept a straight face throughout his infamous Senate committee testimony--where he laughably insisted that nobody foresaw the depth of the current recession (nobody indeed, except the chief economists of many of our chartered banks) and then ludicrously scolded the Senate for daring to "delay" passage of his precious budget (after having helped shut Parliament down for two whole months in a desperate, squalid, semi-constitutional act of political skin-saving).

Who could blame Flaherty for wanting to unwind at one of Ottawa's trendiest bistros with a comely young lady approximately half his age? I'm sure his wife, busy with her own duties at Queen's Park, would be delighted to know that the job of reinforcing her husband's glass-jaw ego, monitoring his Depends and clipping coupons for cut-price Metamucil is apparently in the capable hands of someone so vigorous, so svelte, so eager.

I was finishing my own meal as the couple walked in--Flaherty looking like a slot machine had just paid out in torrents of silver dollars, she looking awkward and self-conscious. By the time I was ready to leave, he was pitchforking bales of lettuce from a huge Caesar salad into his gaping maw and fingering a bottle of what looked to be champagne, perhaps bought in celebration of yet more layoffs in his least favourite province, yet more billions hacked off our GDP, yet more devastated families, yet more foreclosures, yet more homeless. There's really nothing quite like callous, aggressive ineptitude to work up a thirst.

I left before they ordered their meals and thus have no idea what Flaherty decided to backhoe into his blowhole. What do you think a man of Flaherty's refinement would have lighted upon? Would he have started with the iced oysters on the half shell, with shallot mignonette, fresh lemon, chili jam, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and fresh horseradish? Or would he more likely have begun with the crispy duck leg confit (house cured, bien sûr), with a rich consomme and butternut angliotti--all for a measly $18?

His choice of entrée is a question perhaps even more vexed. He could conceivably have contented himself with the 16 oz. New York striploin (for $46) with the seared foie gras (for an extra $11) and the Bordelaise “au jus”, but he may have been more in the mood for the lobster pot pie, featuring an Atlantic lobster, brandy cream, seasonal vegetables, and puff pastry, all for a paltry 50 bucks.

Regardless of what the totally appropriately behaved and strictly professional couple decided to front-end-load down their gullets, I trust taxpayers across Canada—from those gullible enough to believe that CPC cabinet ministers eat exclusively at Tim Hortons to those who will shortly be supping from half-empty cans of Whiskas fished out of dumpsters--will understand the econometric brilliance of Flaherty's act of apparent self-indulgence: fully aware that Luxe's huge plate-glass windows afforded those outside a clear view of his table, Flaherty vicariously satisfied the cravings of all the panhandlers and homeless street urchins who watched longingly and droolingly from the sidewalk. They ate and drank through him; thus, without spending a penny more of our tax money than was strictly necessary to gratify his own precious palate, Flaherty managed to feed over a dozen of the normally unworthy "little people", the people he daily defends from the ghastly depredations of the liberal “élite”.

Who needs a stimulus package when your Minister of Finance knows how to feed the multitude just by feeding his own used-car-salesman face?

14 comments:

Blues Clair said...

Well, according to the wiki, the homeless should feel lucky they can even watch the great man dine.

Tomm said...

Truly a man of the people.

Thank's for that.

I have missed the old Chretien/Martin gossip sheet from Hy's.

Flaherty can also help out the less fortunate by jingling the coins in his pocket as he walks by beggars.

...or is that another Liberal program the CPC killed?

Sir Francis said...

...the homeless should feel lucky they can even watch the great man dine.

With another Ontario P.C. leadership campaign in the offing, Flaherty will have yet another opportunity to get that charming little product of his Catholic conscience on the agenda.

Sir Francis said...

...or is that another Liberal program the CPC killed?

Oh no, Tomm. The CPC has kept all of the Liberal programs that help fill politicians' pockets with big, shiny coins, and the ostentatious jingling of them is positively encouraged...

joël said...

Your delightful prose is always enjoyable. Many thanks!

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

The only fun in having money is to share this knowledge with others.

Buckmister Fuller onced indicated that in the future we would all be millionaires. Relative to what he meant, we ARE. But it's not news because we still have people with even mroe resources than us,

In 1940 people with running water, flush toilets, TV's, radios and cars would all be considered in the top 1%.

We ultimately don't want the objects, we want the objects other people have. To mis-quote Hannibal Lector "We covet".

Sir Francis said...

We ultimately don't want the objects, we want the objects other people have.

So, you agree with Marx then? Gee, I never took you for a "class struggle" kind of guy. ;)

I think Veblen had it right: advanced capitalism requires us to follow an ethic of conspicuous consumption designed to impose invidious socio-economic distinctions, which are the only feasible bases of legitimate prestige in democratic societies (e.g. when the suburban, credit-card aristocrat buys a huge SUV, he says, "I bought a huge SUV, not because it fills a real need, but because I want you to know I can afford it, while you probably cannot").

Our moral distance from the treasure-hoard hunters and ring-bearers of the Viking and Saxon eras is really quite negligible.

Dame said...

Advance capitalism is like 100 years old senile old man in wch.

Your blog is the only one Coming In my e-mail.. You make my days .

Sir Francis said...

You make my days.

It is an honour and a privilege. And somewhat surprising...

Catelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catelli said...

advanced capitalism requires us to follow an ethic of conspicuous consumption designed to impose invidious socio-economic distinctions, which are the only feasible bases of legitimate prestige in democratic societies

That's a mouthful. I'm glad you summarized it!

I've never subscribed to the conditioning of the masses by agents of capitalism. I think capitalism succeeds because we like nice stuff.

It's accentuated by the fact we are compensated for our labours with cash, a valueless contrivance on its own, and only find value in what we can trade it in for.

Which creates a self feeding cycle leading to the false ideal that we can ever increase levels of wealth and economic growth.

I will grant peer pressure and status climbing play some part, but at root our own desire for comfort is what started and maintains our current socio-economic cycle.

Sir Francis said...

...at root our own desire for comfort is what started and maintains our current socio-economic cycle.

But think of how uncomfortable we have to make ourselves in order to do what's necessary to "afford" the stuff that provides this comfort (I say "afford", because few North Americans, debt-burdened as they are, can literally afford all they have). It's a painful comfort at best, no?

Catelli said...

Yes.

Out inability to make rational choices and fully understand the consequences of those choices leads to many poor decisions. We're vulnerable to predatory lenders, glitzy ads and (that last boston creme donut that I really don't need right now.)

Exercising self-restraint and caution is hard to do, especially when we're so susceptible to short term rewards.

Ti-Guy said...

Exercising self-restraint and caution is hard to do.

Not for adults; in fact, being comfortable with the ability to delay gratification is one of the nicest things about growing up. Which leads to an issue with neoliberalism that is getting all to little attention...how it's managed to infantilise our culture.