Monday, August 25, 2008

Acceptable losses

That's the term a military or naval planner uses to excuse the cost in lost troops and material to achieve an objective.

Tony Clement, in suggesting that the government response to the listeriosis outbreak at Maple Leaf foods is in any way a success, is telling you that he subscribes to the idea that four dead are acceptable losses. Further, his language indicates that he doesn't give a red rat's ass about it. (Emphasis mine)
Health Minister Tony Clement says Ottawa's response to a deadly listeriosis outbreak shows the health system is working the way it's supposed to -- even though it appears to have taken a month from the time the first suspicions arose until a recall order was issued for tainted meat from Maple Leaf Foods. [...]

Clement acknowledged, when pressed, that there's always room for improvement. But he maintained that once Ottawa was notified of the problem it acted as quickly as possible.

"In those terms, certainly, I think this was a success," he said of the federal response.

"When there's a loss of life involved it is always tragic . . . It should force us to review our protocols, review how we deal with things and see if there are better ways we can do things.

"But once we were aware of the situation (federal officials) acted very quickly."

Catch that last line?

It's not that Clement is minimizing the deaths of four people - he's dismissing them to pump life into his "success story".

Old adage about the word "but". When and where the word "but" appears in language is an indication of what in a sentence or paragraph is actually relevant to the speaker. Whatever is spoken before the word "but" is meaningless to the speaker; whatever is spoken after the word "but" is what the speaker really means.

By way of an example, I'll reorder a sentence and you decide what information is relevant to both the speaker and the listener.

a. I think you're good looking but you dress funny.

b. I think you dress funny but you're good looking.

What part in each sentence has the speaker dismissed as irrelevant? And what part in each sentence do you, the listener, take away as having the greatest meaning.

Clement did that and made it clear that four dead is acceptable losses in his attempt to make himself look like the leader of a "success".

Impolitical puts it a different way although the meaning is the same:
Good to know that the automatons of the federal government are noting the deaths and chalking them up like canaries in the coal mine that help to illustrate how the system is working.
Precisely, and this is the same mob that will feed you a line on the free market system being better able to regulate itself in consumer food than be subjected to government inspection. The premise being that since the corporation wants desperately to hang on to you as a customer they will go to extensive lengths to prevent things like the listeriosis outbreak from happening, and if it does happen, they will quickly resolve the problem.

Really? That doesn't jive with the fact that Maple Leaf McCain only expanded the recall of their products after government testing of the Toronto plant identified that production facility as the problem.

Four dead, many more ill and the cases are expected to grow. The "wish we were unregulated" free market response? Sorry.

Here's an idea for Tony "I'm not in the pocket of Big Food" Clement. When the Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto plant is up and running again, let's have Tony Clement become the official food taster. A different sandwich every day, perhaps with some spinach and some imported tomatoes. Later on, a hamburger or two. If he dies... oh well. At least we'll know the stuff was bad and we'll chalk his corpse up as an acceptable loss.

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