Best Canadian prediction of the year: here
He was an institutional pollster, marketer, focus group leader and pundit. Heâ€™s served as a strategic advisor to the Greensâ€™ Elizabeth May (after quitting in dismay). Heâ€™s a consultant and confidante to major corporate clients, and Dan Baril has been at the end of the phone when I felt in need of some political advice – one of the four people I trust.
A month ago I gave him a review copy of my soon-to-be-released book, After the Crash. He has today given me his response. â€” Garth
What if Garth is right again?
From Dan Barilâ€™s blog, published Dec. 29
Chapter-after-chapter the crap scares out of you with near indisputable facts. Then, in the final chapter of his new book After the Crash, Garth Turner outlines three economic scenarios; Probable, Possible, and Worst Case. Youâ€™ll have to read the book yourself for the details when itâ€™s available in mid-January, but thatâ€™s not what most caught my attention when I read my â€œreview copyâ€ of what will surely be another best-seller.
In that same final chapter, warding off the alarmist label some are sure to affix to his leathers, Turner rhetorically poses and answers two critical questions â€œâ€¦should a sensible, non-alarmist person worry about the â€œpossibleâ€ or â€œworst caseâ€ scenarios above? Or is this stuff too over the top? The answer lies in the nature of risk. If the possibility of something happening is not 0%, then a prudent person usually does something to protect against it.â€
The question I kept asking myself as I was reading, and since, is how much above zero percent probability are the Possible or the Worst Case scenarios, and to whom does one look for the answer?
Should Canadians look to a Prime Minister and his sidekick Minister of Finance who a few months ago told Canadians â€œour economic fundamentals are as solid as the Canadian Shieldâ€ or to the guy about who the Canadian Press says â€œâ€¦more important may be that the former MPâ€™s alarmist book about collapsing housing prices in Canada – â€œGreater Fool,â€ which he began writing last December when the sky seemed to be the limit – has turned out scarily bang-on.â€
Far from being just another â€œhow toâ€ book – although there is some of that too – reading between the lines of After the Crash, there is a far more fundamental message about taking back that which a few decades ago many of us unwittingly gave up. Control.
Control of what is another question, as is how much and in what denomination.
Garth makes it amply clear the decision about taking control is a very personal decision which ultimately each of us has to make on our own. The book doesnâ€™t make the decision for you but there is certainly no shortage of facts, figures and a historical context to help the reader decide. By the end of the book itâ€™s also clear what decisions and which path Garth has, and is, taking.
Looking back at 2008, I will be kind and generous. I wonâ€™t say politicians did what they did on purpose. Instead I will let them get away with saying they didnâ€™t know – read as they proved their incompetence.
Truth is Misters Harper, Flaherty, Ignatieff, Layton, Duccepe, and their Provincial equivalents havenâ€™t a clue whatâ€™s truly in store for 2009. I watched Stephen Harperâ€™s year-end interview with the CTV duo, Robertson and Fife, and I canâ€™t for the life of me figure out why the broadcaster needed two questioners of a man with no answers. The interview was about nothing like no show of Seinfeld ever was.
For certain and just as the real estate industry did a year ago and continues today, the government doesnâ€™t see its role as telling the truth so much as it believes in self-servingly creating and maintaining an illusion and working to prevent widespread panic. Fair enough, there is no sense in making matters worse, but at some point – preferably sooner than later – Canadians need to draw the line on blatant deceitfulness driven by greed and power-hungry partisanship.
Politics is the blood sport itâ€™s reputed to be. That much we know. But as of quite some time ago the end-game seems no longer about what political good is done with the winnings, rather itâ€™s all about ensuring no end to the game of politics.
For those on the inside and those just on the outside itâ€™s all good fun and terrific theatre. We get to play directly as strategists or indirectly as colour commentators about whoâ€™s right, whoâ€™s wrong, anticipated next moves, and an endless stream of differing analysis. But as my father used to say when we kids horsed-around too much, itâ€™s all good fun until somebody gets hurt. And by some measure of account, it appears 2009 is going to hurt plenty.
To minimize the hurt each person has to decide for themselves how much of the Probable scenario they can weather or how much above zero percent is the probability of Garthâ€™s predictions of the Possible Case and Worst Case scenarios. Rationalists may ask why plan for the less likely scenarios, and perhaps thatâ€™s a good question so long as you trust the person attaching percentage probabilities to each scenario.
True to form, the best line in After the Crash is a taunt at the end of chapter one; â€œâ€¦after you read the factors which got us here, and the trends now propelling current events, the ultimate decision is yours on how aggressively you prepare, or how much you pray you donâ€™t have to.â€
Ahem, Dear Godâ€¦