I figured out why the throne speech worked so badly. It wasn't enough like a magazine cover.
Magazine editors know you have to grab readers with something that promises to make their lives better.
That's why the covers offer "Six ways to cut your grocery bill" or "Five tips to help you child get better grades" or "Four sure paths to business success."
The throne speech didn't tell British Columbians how the government proposed to make their lives better, except in the most abstract ways.
Streamlining the approval process for mines is a worthwhile goal, and could create jobs. But the speech never expressed those benefits clearly. There was no list of "Six ways we're helping you have a chance at a better job."
And what are people to make of a passage like "new emphasis will be placed on parental involvement and on tailoring our education system to each child's individual needs, interests and passions."
It sounds vaguely positive. But it doesn't say anything. There's no chance a parent can hear that and believe the government actually is doing anything to make life better for their child.
Some sections came closer, like the commitment to introduce preschools over the next five years.
But they were so vague it was hard to know if they would actually meet families' needs.
It's not a question of bad writing or a throne speech crafted by committee.
It's a symptom that the government has actually lost sight of the fact that its reason for existence is to make the lives of British Columbians, now and in the future, better.
And that it needs to be able to draw a direct link between whatever it does and the results for us.
Plans for a "comprehensive strategy to put B.C. at the forefront of clean energy development" are fine - if they benefit British Columbians.
There will be some jobs, certainly, and some companies will do well. But if the strategies just mean higher electricity costs for most of us, why is this a government priority?
The problem was on display the day after the throne speech, in the first question period of this session.
Citizens' Services Minister Ben Stewart was asked about a privacy breach that left confidential files on more than 1,400 British Columbians in the hands of an employee convicted of fraud. The people weren't told for seven months they were at risk. Reviews the government failed to protect their information and failed to respond to the breach.
NDP MLA Shane Simpson asked Stewart to apologize to those 1,400 people for the failures that put them at risk of identity theft.
Stewart wouldn't. Surely saying sorry to citizens you have failed is simply recognizing that they are your first concern.
Even more striking was Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid's response to questions about the deep cuts school districts are making.
She noted that funding to districts rose by 1.9 per cent this year, in spite of a declining enrolment. And she pointed to the coming full-day kindergarten and the expansion of StrongStart centres for preschoolers.
But mostly, MacDiarmid talked about how much the government was spending - not about whether children were getting better educations. Why not say districts are being asked to cut to help keep the deficit down and explain why the government believes it's necessary and possible?
The ministry's budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1 is slated to increase by less than one per cent. School districts have to provide a provincially negotiated teachers' pay increase of at least two per cent. Something has to give.
Why not acknowledge that and explain the main things being done to ensure students' educations aren't being compromised?
An Angus Reid poll last April found less than one-third of British Columbians thought Premier Gordon Campbell understood the problems of people living in the province.
The government isn't doing much to change the minds of all those who think the Liberals are unconcerned with their futures.
Footnote: The throne speech made an effort to sell the harmonized sales tax, but stumbled. In the election campaign 10 months ago, the Liberals said the tax would be bad for British Columbians; the speech said "nothing is more important" for the province's economic future than the tax. The flip-flop is too glaring for people to miss.