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Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Thursday, November 06, 2003

MARTHA AND HENRY GET REAL 

When preparing a platform from which to launch Ralph Klein into orbit as Premier of Alberta skilled advertising, sales and marketing professionals dreamed up an imaginary couple they called Martha and Henry. They were injected into the thinking processes of groups made up mainly of people representing the financial institutions, the private schoolers, the corporate interests and the big businesses of the Province. The function of Henry and Martha was to create the illusion that those so-called advisory sessions were listening to “ordinary Albertans” and caring about their future. The thoughts and values expressed by Martha and Henry at that time were exactly what these consultants and facilitators were told to have them say. Ralph Klein loved this couple, and still does, because from then on he could claim that he was only doing what normal Albertans wanted him to do.

Ten years ago they were a figment of Ralph’s imagination. Today let’s listen in as Henry and Martha start using their own brains to distinguish between truth and lies in Ralph’s World:-

-Henry: Martha we gotta talk
-Martha: What’s up? something wrong?
-Henry: Yer darn tootin’ something’s wrong. I’m fed up being treated like I haven’t a brain in my head
-Martha: Whoa, wait a minute, last time you started thinking for yourself Ralph shut you up real good by reminding you that he made you and he’s the one who tells you what to think. Told you to keep on saying we both think he’s on the right track
-Henry: It’s your fault for starting me thinking. After we talked last time I got to thinking about what you said about our future being far less secure now than it was when Ralph took over
-Martha: You mean, you’ve been seeing how necessities like car insurance and gas and electricity prices are climbing out of control
-Henry: Yeah, power and gas prices are being yanked up and down, mostly up, by outfits that all they got to do is cry and they get another raise. But I’ve been thinking about something far more serious
-Martha: But Ralph told us there’s nothing more important than money! Remember when Ralph’s PR guys created us we were programmed to talk as if all we cared about was saving money so he could rescue us from that terrible deficit
-Henry: Yeah, I know! Ralph had us imagining that we were on a raft floating out of control on a river of debt and unless he swooped down from his political helicopter and pulled us all to safety we were going to fall over Niagara Falls
-Martha: You gotta admit he had us scared
-Henry: Yeah but ten years later the only thing I’ve gotta admit is that we fell for a big fat monstrous pack of lies
-Martha: Are you saying there wasn’t a deficit?
-Henry: Oh the government owed a lot of money alright. They’d been talked into borrowing money to finance some harebrained, money-losing schemes and Ralph was one of them. But they were lying through their teeth when they told us that the cost of education and health care, seniors and welfare benefits were the cause of the trouble
-Martha: But Ralph said...
-Henry: I know what Ralph said and I know what he’s still saying. Ralph himself demonstrates the most blatant use of unethical sales techniques ever seen in this Province.
-Martha: Watch it Henry you are coming close to saying that Ralph Klein lies to get himself elected and then keeps telling lies to convince people he knows what he’s doing
-Henry: Let me put it this way; say you go to the showroom of a car dealer and the salesman tells you he has studies to prove that you never need to change the oil in these newer cars
-Martha: I’m afraid I’d probably believe him if I liked one of the cars and thought it would save me money and a lot of bother because I’ve nothing else to go on
-Henry: Exactly! But what the salesman doesn’t tell you is that other findings from actual research by qualified scientists found that drivers who tried to save money on oil paid out far more on repairs and replacement costs down the way
-Martha: So what are you getting at Henry?
-Henry: Just this Martha; Ralph Klein and his agents have claimed over and over again that for-profit free enterprisers can run everything cheaper and better than a responsible government can.
-Martha: You mean like they think big construction outfits can save us money by building highways and hospitals and even schools and then renting them back to us so we can guarantee them a profit by paying more taxes ?
-Henry: Well those are recent claims being made without a shred of evidence that research has been done to prove or even indicate that privatizing any public service will save money or benefit the public.
- Martha: But Ralph’s disciples have never needed honest research to try selling people on what they want to do. Remember way back in 1994 when one of his buddies claimed to have tons of research proving he could cut out school kindergartens without hurting our son who was five years old that year?
-Henry: Yeah how could I forget? That was Halvar what’s his name and the guy they got in that department now is even worse. The way he twists and bends information he deserves the old saying “Figures don’t lie but liars figure”
-Martha: But isn’t that dangerous to actually call these men liars, aren’t they just doing what politicians do to make themselves look good
-Henry: Well what would you say that car salesman was doing when he told you you would never need to change the oil in your new car
-Martha: I’d say he was so set on selling me a car that he’d say anything to make a sale. But surely Ralph wouldn’t do that or would he?
-Henry: As part of getting real instead of phony like Ralph wants me to be I checked back in Hansard the other day
-Martha: Catch me quick before I fall off my stool. Don’t tell me you actually read what Ralph says when he gets into the Legislature
-Henry: You bet your life I do! I’m not half as dumb as Ralph makes me out to be and neither are you
-Martha: So what did you find out?
- Henry: Well remember back when Ralph’s team was trying to start selling the health care system to some of his old business-doctor buddies down in Calgary so they could run people in and out for quick operations and maybe have them stay over night.
-Martha: How could I forget it? And they’re still pushing that aren’t they?
-Henry: Well one afternoon, December 1 1999 to be exact, an opposition member asked Ralph “Where is your study?” She meant a study that proved for-profit hospitals actually saved money for the citizens.
-Martha: So what did Ralph say?
-Henry: Actually he said a lot of demeaning stuff like implying she was too dumb to understand so he would ask the Minister of Health and Welfare, who used to be a teacher, to explain to her in grade five language.
- Martha: But he never answered her question and he never showed her the studies that he was talking about?
- Henry: It was just like it was with kindergarten: the truth, almost certainly, was that there were no studies and even if there were they wouldn’t prove what he was trying to sell
-Martha: You know something just popped into my brain! Ralph and his buddies are so much like that car salesman it really scares me
-Henry: Yeah I know, they seem to think we’re so incapable of thinking for ourselves that all they have to do is pretend they have a study somewhere proving that government can abandon responsibility for education and health and other human services to blind market forces
-Martha: Guess you see now why I’m more fearful of the future than when Ralph got himself elevated so high he thinks he’s invented his own world
-Henry: Our province is really like a car that’s been driven hard without enough oil. Realistically it’s going to cost us far more up ahead than Ralph has ever saved
-Martha: Now I think that Ralph’s world is as much a figment of his imagination as we once were. Boy I’m sure glad we woke up, started thinking and are beginning to get real.

By Sandy November 6/03

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