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Letter: Muskrat Falls — defending the indefensible

A public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project is designed to examine many aspects of the $12.7-billion hydroelectric project.
The Muskrat Falls project. - file photo

I’ve been reading Stephen Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” where he discusses wars of attrition and loss-aversion strategy (where he cites, as an example,) leaders who have justified continuing a “lost” war so that “our boys shall not have died in vain,” he writes.

This mindset — known as loss aversion, the cost-sunk fallacy and throwing good money after bad — is patently irrational but it is surprisingly pervasive in human decision-making.

People stay in abusive marriages because of the years they have already put in it, or sit through a bad movie because they have already paid for the ticket, or try to reverse a gambling loss by doubling their next bet, or pour money into a boondoggle because they’ve already poured so much money into it.

Related story:

Danny Williams condemns ‘negativity’ over Muskrat Falls project

Though psychologists don’t fully understand why people are suckers for sunk costs, a common explanation is that it signals a public commitment.

The person is announcing “when I make a decision, I’m not so weak, stupid or indecisive that I can be easily talked out of it.”

So, when Kathy Dunderdale and company were confronted with a federal/provincial panel and a PUB which both had very serious issues with the details and projections of the Muskrat scheme, they were locked into a loss-aversion mindset that ultimately spelled financial disaster for our province.

Even today, we hear Danny Williams, Paul Davis and others still defending the indefensible. They insist it will be great for us down the road, even though it could very well bankrupt the government and cause untold hardship on electricity consumers — especially those on fixed incomes, who may have to choose between eating or heating their homes.

As voters we all have to be on our toes all the time when our leaders, especially those who have very high popularity ratings, come to use with legacy schemes that call for the public to be the underwriters.

So Danny, when you so foolishly and cavalierly call the people — who have long seen through your “no brainer” — a bunch of negative naysayers, know that the jig is up. You and your cronies will be thought of and cursed each month as electricity rates, at the very least, double.

Charlie Menchions

Sandy Cove

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