The business of politics

At the risk of treading into a significant manure pile, I’m going to blog about politics for a bit. With all the electioneering going on these days, I feel I should get to play in the dirt a little too. As a business magazine, we don’t talk about politics all that much; it’s just not something we cover. But there’s one aspect of politics that really should be foremost on a businessperson’s mind: and that’s leadership.

So I’ve been thinking about this, and what struck me is just how different the Conservatives and the Liberals would appear in a business-pitch scenario, facing off to a row of investors, all Dragon’s Den style, forced to really boil down their business plans in a concise, inspiring way.

And this is where, in my mind, the Conservatives are failing. Cut taxes, decrease spending, reduce investment restrictions. Now these policies may or may not make good economic sense—I’m no economist—but I can say with no uncertainty that they’d make terrible television. I can just imagine the reality-TV producers cranking up the whooshy drum suspense music to absurd levels in a vain attempt to compensate as investors crack their jaws yawning.

Now enter the Liberals, slapping down a briefcase and whipping out the most ambitious tax reform Canada’s seen in decades: a national carbon tax. On top of that—the soundtrack shifts to sympathy strings—the tax shift will favour poor Canadians, in an attempt to reverse Canada’s steadily growing economic inequality. There’s courage, drama, compassion: it’s an economic platform made for reality TV.

I guess the question is, what does the audience really want? Maybe the celebrity investors don’t want to be inspired; maybe they’ll be freaked out by all the bravado and choose the safer, more conventional path. Maybe that’s a wise and prudent move.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m on my second coffee of the morning, but it seems to me the entrepreneurs and investors we celebrate in our pages don’t do that. They dream big, take chances, make grand plans and press onward heroically (and, yes, quite often stupidly).

So are grand schemes such as the carbon tax a smart move? I don’t know. As a journalist, my answer is to get on the phone and call up some real experts and then get all depressed about just how mind-numbingly complex these issues actually are.

But if nothing else, it’s the big plans that grab my attention.