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LETTER: Needs and wants

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

I would like to comment in regards to several articles in The Telegram: “Sidewalks, Roads and Government,” “St. John’s Council: take a lesson from Virginia” and “Spend and tax mentality."

A lesson from Pennsylvania. I believe grandfather was a third generation Pennsylvania Dutch dairy farmer, (very well-known to be fiscally conservative people). I don’t think grandfather had much education. I had a feeling he may have had very limited reading and writing skills, as I believe it was determined that he would be a farmer and would not need much formal education and out of respect, in those days, you knew better than to ask such prying questions.

However, having said that, at almost 74 years of age and having much formal education and having been around, I must say I have obtained an amazing education from grandfather in “common sense.” I am still dumbfounded trying to figure out where grandfather learned or knew so much about life, finance, diversity, human relations, etc. The stories he told me, lessons on life, have guided me all through my life.

Many things academic are contradictory. Wisdom (the DOMain of the WISe) will give you a “gut” feeling on which axiom to apply when and where.

Hindsight will evaluate your success in making the right decision.

The consequences that follow a wrong decision enlightens one to make the right decision in the future — commonly referred to (back then) as the school of hard knocks.

Grandfather told me two stories on wants and needs.

One day, he said, “Come along with me, I want to go look at getting a new tractor. I want you to watch and listen and don’t say a word. Now the thing you want to keep in mind is this: I want a new tractor. But the salesperson must sell in order to live. He needs to sell a tractor. I won’t get a deal today or maybe even this week, but through negotiation we (may) come to an agreement.”

The story comes back to mind in reading the above captioned articles. First, my hat goes off to the Town of C.B.S. on holding the line on “core” budget items (i.e. needs). Municipalities ask for input and between the citizens and the council members decisions (negotiations) take place. All too often the citizens wonder, did the council get their message?

I think it is true that good roads and safe roads are a priority. Poor roads full of potholes cause costly repairs that many can ill afford and unsafe roads may cause death. Clean water, sewage, garbage collection, etc. are also priorities. Next, because of the volume of traffic on the main roads in municipalities, wide shoulders or sidewalks are also a must.

However, such items as ballfield lighting, soccer field turf, feasibility studies, etc., while nice, may have to wait for an improved, robust economy.

In regards to St. John’s, I have heard the cries of the business community and the risk of closing their doors. The city says it wants to promote a business environment. Yet they raise the commercial tax while planning to spend quite a sum on King George V turf and around Quidi Vidi Lake. Now if I lived in the city I would not be against these items and I am proud of St. John’s. It is a beautiful city.

The question is: is this the right time for this kind of expenditure? I read the outlook for Newfoundland growth next year is (beginning) to look promising again. But, again, it depends on the price and oil production. We have already learned lessons of depending on that, haven’t we.

Back to grandfather again: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Also, “You cannot spend this fall’s harvest in the spring because of unpredictable weather and other calamities such as fire. You may need those funds to replant."

I think it was Will Smith who said, “Too many people spend money they don’t have, on things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

Grandfather may not have been educated, but he was damn sure wise. I would place my bet on grandfather’s advice any day, even this day.

Do I need a trip to the sunny south or do I want a trip to the sunny south?

Hmm.

R.A. Mease

Conception Bay South

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