Budgets, budgets everywhere

Ed Smith
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Everybody seems to be talking about budgets these days.

So, I thought I'd be different and comment on something entirely different.

Sort of give the reading public a break from the woes and sorrows of the latest machinations of the provincial government.

Instead, I thought I might discuss the basic principles of what constitutes effective governance in a modern democratic society.

The tendency here is to apply those principles to the government with which one is most familiar. There are certain standards inherent in each of them, of course, which one would normally expect to find in that government.

Oops. I decided to pursue another idea. I would instead wax eloquent on the responsibilities of individual MHAs to government, of which they are a part, and to the province as a whole.

Got myself so involved in the convoluted thoughts and ideas of various ministers and MHAs that I became thoroughly perplexed as to how these responsibilities were viewed by the individuals concerned.

I have a friend who claims to be totally frustrated by what seems to be the major factor governing the opinions of members of the ruling party — that is, toeing the party line. Does that mean, she asks, that when one becomes part of government one has to give up using one’s own mind?

There are those who would consider that to be a silly question, a really silly question.

Determined to find something to talk about other than the omnipresent budget, I turned my attention to another topic.

Mistakes and those who make them.

As a purely hypothetical question, then, which of the following positions should be least admired?

The persons who made the mistake in the beginning because they didn't care enough to do it right? The persons who didn't bother enough to take the time to do it right? Or the persons who were simply too stunned to do it properly?

Would those persons be more admirable if they admitted to one of the above, and then tried to it right? Or is it the most admirable of all if after rectifying the mistakes, they maintained they hadn't made any mistake in the first place?

It would seem in a specific case that justice will finally be served when all is said and done. Of course, we are speaking hypothetically.

To steer even further away from discussing the budget, we could find ourselves taking up the cudgels on one side or the other of the age-old debate — is bigger better? Is a bigger fortune better than a smaller fortune? Is a bigger car better than a smaller car?

I'm told by others that some men have a great deal of trouble discussing this issue because the very thought of it causes them to break out in rashes and develop a severe inferiority complex.

When is bigger so much bigger that it is better than smaller? When is smaller so much smaller that it is deemed to have no value at all?

Is Toronto a much better city than St. John's because it is roughly 40 times as large?

Is the Vancouver school board much better than the North Sydney school board because it is so much bigger?

Are the schools better administered in the bigger city than the smaller? Would one school board for all of Canada be a better proposition than one for each province? Speaking hypothetically, of course.

So many questions, so few answers. So little time to figure it all out. Roughly 2 1/2 years.

The bigger is better debate will rage on not in terms of who is best suited for starring roles in adult films, but which is best suited to accomplish the purpose for which it is intended.

For example, there are many, many kilometres between the school in Nain and a structure named Prince of Wales Collegiate. There are many thousands of light-years culturally between the school in Northern Labrador and the one next to Memorial University campus.

When one applies the bigger-is-better principle to that scenario, especially in terms of administration, the whole thing becomes slightly iffy, to put it mildly, and in terms I would not use if this were not a family paper.

Oh, good Lord, I'm getting uncomfortably close to the budget again, aren't I?

Sorry, but you have to admit I've gone on for about 700 words and hardly scraping the sides of the thing. I will try one more time.

I've always been interested in so-called modern proverbs. Some of them aren't modern at all, of course, and go back at least as far as the earliest days of the Bible. A great many of them have some application to modern life.

A familiar example is the old "A stitch in time saves nine."

No one has to think very hard about what it means. Taking a course of action at the appropriate time when such action is obviously called for can prevent much more drastic action from being called for in the future.

The prudent person will use one or two stitches in the little guy’s pants as soon as those stitches are obviously needed. This will save having to sew up the entire rip in the arse of his pants a little further on down the road.

It will be the same as if you knew you had sufficient cash now but there was the possibility your income would drop substantially, you wouldn't go out and buy yourself a Cadillac. Because how would you pay for it when that income was all shot to hell?

Uh oh. Oh my gosh. I've gone and done it again, haven't I?

Perhaps it's not entirely my fault. Perhaps the budget has permeated every aspect of our being to the extent that no matter which way we turn it rises up and bites us. Perhaps that's it.

You think?


Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  

His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Vancouver school board, North Sydney school board

Geographic location: Toronto, St. John's, Canada Nain Northern Labrador Springdale

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Recent comments

  • EDfromRED
    April 21, 2013 - 17:33

    The Justice & Education Dept. cuts show how little the PC's care about common people! We might as well bring back paupers prisons and workhouses for poor orphans and widows. This government has a steady pattern of taking us backwards as a society...except when it comes to Muskrat Fall's, where they 'bend over backwards' to grant every monetary wish they desire.

  • Jacob King
    April 20, 2013 - 09:09

    I like your style, Mr. Smith.