Responding to the article by Robin Charteris (ODT, 9.9.08), Calvin Oaten throws up that all too familiar and increasingly useless term ‘common sense’. His call for an injection of “some commonsense and responsible fiscal management” is of course somewhat typical of the arguments put forward by the ‘Anti’ Stadium crowd these days.
For a start, what is common sense. It’s like that other meaningless phrase “P.C.” (more to the point un-PC) which it too readily bandied about by the media and commentators alike these days. For Mr Oaten’s argument to have any meaning, we would have to qualify what he means by common sense. I always thought it was common sense not to put a fork into a power socket (hence those annoying plastic kiddie covers). However our electrician informs me that while it was common knowledge that electricity can kill you, modern plugs like the one we have built into our house can’t kill you like the old ones did. So while it was thought of as common sense, it was in fact a historical fact, and something that won’t be thought of at all in the future. What made sense to me, made no sense to our sparky at all.
Common Sense in the way that Mr Oaten means, is in fact Mr Oaten’s sense. To him his argument makes sense, and thus it really should be common, considering other people agree with him. However as there are many people n this town who would not agree with his opinion, ‘common’ is a relative term, and sense for one person is madness or otherwise to another. For me it makes sense that my team Everton should get TV coverage of each and every game, but to supporters of other teams, that would be insanity. Common sense is in fact a simple catchphrase for those whom do not pocess the strength of argument to fully explain their position, or indeed that position is pretty much indefensible (or an untruth), there is no way I could arguably defend my above statements about Everton FC and world media domination. Common sense is more or less always a defence policy when argument is un-quantifiable and based less on facts than it is on opinion.
“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
Attributed to Albert Einstein”
The second part of his argument against the stadium relies upon “responsible fiscal management”. Again this is highly contentious and open to interpretation. The National Party believes that it is “responsible fiscal management” to borrow from overseas funds to pay for election pledges of Tax Cuts. Labour and other parties of the left disagree and that this is irresponsible. I have two good buddies at the London Stock Exchange and Treasury who have the greatest of arguments as to what is “responsible fiscal management”, do you think they could agree. Again Mr Oaten is working off a biased position, which to him looks like irresponsible fiscal management lacking of common sense, but to others is indeed to opposite.
Unfortunately the final suggestion in Mr Oaten’s argument are so typical of the anti-stadium brigade that it falls within the ‘untruth’ and mischievous nature of their argument. He heaps the profitable and exceedingly popular Chinese Garden in with the so called “hopelessly uneconomic projects” that the DCC has or is about to undertake. I’m not sure where Mr Oaten gets off with such a suggestion, but it is seriously lacking any common knowledge (that stuff that is actually out there and is quantifiable), relying on so called common sense (you know the stuff that he has a ‘feel’ for). However, not only does he have his facts wrong on the Chinese Garden, he has no way what so ever to qualify the presumption that the stadium will be an “hopelessly uneconomic project”. This is of course not what the economic predictions for the stadium claim, nor what in reality might (or might not) happen. He has no way of knowing in 3-5 years time if the stadium will or won’t be a “hopelessly uneconomic project”.
But then these arguments are all too common from the anti-stadium crowd.