Recently, it was said to me, "I don't suppose governments will ever satisfy everyone, no matter what they do."
Probably a truism if there ever was one. But governments (and yes, corporations) could easily get more widespread support for what they do, if they went about what they do - differently.
How best to do that?
Jack Murphy (died 2007, age 69) was a developmentally delayed, simple funny man who grew up on Gilbert Street just a few houses from us. Jack was illiterate as far as I know. However, his state in life did not prevent him from teaching you a thing or two.
One such teaching moment for me happened over 30 years ago with our first car (Ford Comet - went to blast furnace hell, I hope) that used to get water in a rear wheel well. I was parked at mother's on Gilbert Street and in the trunk using a can to take water from the wheel well and dump it in the bucket I held.
Along comes Jack and watches me and in no time at all and says, "Jun (short for Andy Jr.) why don't you just throw the water on the ground?" A nanosecond freeze had me Mr. Smarty Pants (BA,BEd, MEd) look at what I was doing and say "Jack, you're right." I hove out the bucket and got rid of the water - Jack's way.
An issue of the New Yorker a few years back had a drawing of a wild-eyed horse, in the wilds of the American southwest, running full tilt - all four legs off the ground. Meanwhile, its rider, President George W. Bush, wearing winkers, was cool as a cucumber.
Who hasn't worn winkers one time or another? Who hasn't been in a spot where a Jack could have saved you time or saved the day?
However, it's the winker tunnel vision that all too often has governments and businesses make foolish expensive mistakes. In March 2005 a $2-million breakwater was destroyed in a storm at Flatrock. Fishermen had warned that it had been built in the wrong place. But who where those Jacks to tell the experts?
At the Mount Peyton session on the New High Street a couple of years ago it was all, show and tell. We will show you and tell you what we are going to do. And don't tell us anything different! If the planners and council that night had been open to the ideas of the Jacks (or Jacquelines) maybe - for starters - we wouldn't have the over protruding roundabouts on Jones Street.
As for winkers you have to wonder about the $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls project? It may be the best electrical supply to develop, but too many Jacks have raised enough issues about its practicality and viability to warrant a thorough, deeper, analysis. And the government's new provincial ferries program should have us even more concerned about the cost of Muskrat Falls.
Eight ferries were to be built for $90-million, but the first two alone cost $55-million. Thankfully, the government is having second thoughts about the other six. But second thoughts and poor planning don't help the people living on Bell Island and Fogo who remain waiting for better days to come.
Better days are ahead for all of us, according to Finance Minister Tom Marshall's 2012 Budget, aptly named "People
and Prosperity - Responsible Investments for a Secure Future"
(Subtitled: We're out of cash).
The Soviet Union was infamous for its five year plans, but now that our government has bettered that notion with a 10-year plan that takes into account, "core mandates, finding efficiencies, essential functions, high priority services," blah-blah-blah.
In the great leap forward in the 10-year plan, hopefully the Toms of government will seek out the Jacks - inside and outside of the bureaucracy. The Jacks who can see what the experts cannot see or stubbornly, refuse to see.
Maybe the Jacks of Health will raise enough questions to have second thoughts (if they haven't already) about a proposed new hospital for Corner Brook. The present hospital over there looks dumpish outside and probably has more than a need of a coat of paint inside. But a $750-million budget (too close to a billion) for a hospital in a region that shows no signs of a surging population should be a matter of deep concern.
Very disappointing (besides not replacing the Bond bridge) is the government waiting game on municipal funding. Three cheers for the Jack of St. John's (Mayor O'Keefe) for keeping the issue on the front burner. But the PCs say it will be two more years (election time again) before new funding is in place.
How pathetic is funding now? In the Town of Grand Falls 1985 budget the province's share was just over 30 per cent ($1.2-million). In the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor 2012 budget the province's share is $394,298 - a super stingy, insulting, 3 per cent!
Marshall's budget gives a break for all seniors (no matter their income) on fees and licenses. However, long overdue is a new financial arrangement for municipalities that stops breaking the backs of homeowners (no matter their income) who now fork over higher and higher property taxes to maintain municipal services.
As for the federal government - new prisons, new jets, old navy subs, closing facilities, decreasing services, and ministers splurging on $16 orange juice and chauffeur driven cars shows that there is hardly a Jack worth a darn to be found in Ottawa.
Auditor generals continually show that governments at all levels are ever in need of finding the Jacks to change the way things are done that is - collecting and spending taxes - our money.
And until the Jacks rule the day, conversations will continue to begin with, "I don't suppose governments will ever satisfy everyone, no matter what they do."
– Andy Barker