H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is happy.” Confirming Mencken’s diagnosis, a resident recently complained to the Milton, Ontario city council about a neighbour’s Halloween display. Phillip Cross compares the killjoy instincts of progressive scolds with the live-and-let-live views of conservatives.
Philip Cross was a third-generation civil servant who became renowned for his brilliant data analysis and scrupulous objectivity as Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada. Then he traded the velvet coffin of government for the shark-infested pool of the private sector, becoming a self-employed economic policy analyst and pundit. His former colleagues at Statcan wondered if he “had fallen on his head.” But for Cross, liberation from government was a natural expression of his conservative philosophical convictions – and an experience he recommends to anyone trapped in the drudgery of the civil service.