Home > Broadcasting, Business, Politics, Uncategorized > Lies, damn lies, and attack ads

Lies, damn lies, and attack ads

Advertising is a deceptive craft at best. At its worst, advertising can be duplicitous, false, and harmful to the public interest. The scale runs the gamut from the simple bullshit of hair dye commercials to the “Big Lie” fostered by the Nazi Party and others of evil genius.

Advertising can be as crass as TV’s ugly used car salesman pitching his heaps from a littered lot, to the intellectually challenging, graphically inspiring theme of the historic (and since unmatched) Apple Computer “1984” ad. Advertising of this nature requires immense creative and literary talent.

So where do political attack ads — particularly those of the Conservative Party of Canada — rank on the scale?

I’d say somewhere between misleading and fraudulent.

The latest example is an attack ad on Michael Ignatieff’s alleged position on corporate taxes. It supposedly unravels the Liberal leader’s “plan” to increase taxes. Actually, it’s another attempt at character assassination .Dissect this ad piece by piece, and here’s what you find:

Claim: That Ignatieff is pushing for a $6 billion tax increase. Fact: A Liberal government would cancel the Conservative government’s planned $6 billion reduction in corporate taxes.

Does cancellation of a tax decrease amount to a tax increase? Continuing to pay the same tax rate hardly constitutes an increase. (To say nothing of the merits of the issue: should we be borrowing money to cut government revenues by $6 billion at a time when Ottawa is running a $56 billion deficit?)

Claim : That Ignatieff’s “tax increase” would be paid for by workers. Fact: If there’s anything to be paid (which is debatable) it would be paid by corporations and their shareholders, whom Ignatieff would deprive of yet more  largesse from the public coffers, courtesy  of Stephen Harper.

If Ignatieff were calling for an increase in corporate taxes, you could argue that companies would pass the cost to consumers. But that’s not the case here: products are already priced relative to current taxes (not some future lower rate). The competitive climate doesn’t allow companies to boost prices beyond any increases in real cost.

A question the ad doesn’t address: Would still lower corporate taxes lower prices and boost jobs? Debatable, according to leading economists. Look at Ireland, which has cut its corporate tax rate to the lowest in the world. Today, it’s an economic basket case.

Claim: “He didn’t come back for you.” Fact: Another personal slur on Michael Ignatieff which reduces political discourse to the level of a chicken coop diatribe polluted by arguments unworthy of consideration by any intelligent voter. A “Big Lie” perhaps?

The Liberals have had their share of attack ads but none have descended to the depravity practiced by their Conservative opponents. The Green party, less flush than the two big old line parties, can safely boast they’ll not play this game:

The skill of the ad writers for the Conservative party cannot be questioned. But I leave it up to you to decide if your ability to twist, distort and lie about your competition is  a quality you’d want to put on your resume.

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