Spending yesterday morning at City Hall watching the budget committee in action, it struck me that we, the citizens, need to pause every now and then, between bouts of invective and ill-informed petulance, to recognize and appreciate just how hard our elected officials and the bureaucracy that toils to keep them upright and pointed in the right direction work diligently on our behalf.
I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Laggards, the lot of them. Parasites just living off the avails of us hard working people. Do you know how long I had to wait in line for __________. Everyone’s got a horror story to tell about the neglect and abuse we’ve been subjected to by the do-nothings and their unionized minions who regulate our lives, right?
Colour me skeptical. No doubt there are layabouts and slouches within the political ranks and the civil service. What workplace doesn’t occasionally possess such individuals? There will always be a certain percentage of the population who are simply freeloaders, always with an eye open to doing as little work as possible while being paid as much as they can get away with. That’s what attracted me to a career in blogging.
But those types remain part of a solid minority of working folks who are driven by the basic urge to do as good a job as they possibly can while being fairly remunerated for it.
So it is with our politicians and those that help prop up our public sector (and in so doing, civil society itself… No, I don’t think that’s an overstatement.)
Wednesday’s budget committee session was the second day of the proceedings. On Tuesday, they had ground through nearly 14 hours. Budget Chief, Michael Del Grande, declared that he would not allow that to happen again, vowing to keep yesterday to its scheduled 12 hours. Other committee meetings were on similar time lines.
Granted, this isn’t a regular occurrence. It is budget season after all without which nothing else could happen at City Hall. And this year things were on an even more turbo-charged clock after the mayor pushed through an entirely unnecessary shortened time frame to get the budget done. While some have assigned more nefarious reasons for it, such as an attempt to squeeze outside oversight of the numbers, I think it has more to do with stage managed optics (which Team Ford is very, very good at.) Speed = efficiency. Efficiency = Stopping The Gravy Train.
Watching various councillors scramble back and forth between committee meetings yesterday put the lie to our mayor’s claim that he could half the size of council without any disruption in how the government was run. Our municipal politicians really do have a lot of balls in the air even outside of budget time, and that’s not taking into account the work they do at a constituency level. It’s more than a full time job.
So what, you’ll say. Who cares if our pols and municipal bureaucrats have to put in a little overtime every now and then. We pay them very, very well. We all should be so lucky to have such generous terms of employment.
Not one to sniff at a 6 digit salary but I am unconvinced that’s the case. Many of those at work at City Hall would very likely be able to command much larger incomes if they were working in the private sector. Mayor Ford already does. Ditto his brother, Doug; so much so that he’s donating his councillor salary to charity. Why should we assume Michael Del Grande would make less, plying his trade out there as a chartered accountant than he does as a city councillor? The rigour, diligence and hours that other councillors put in — the likes of Shelley Carroll, Adam Vaughan, Janet Davis, Gord Perks — would be amply rewarded by any non-governmental employer that hired them.
Another assertion, of course, that simply does not jibe with the current perception of politicians and anyone else paid through the public purse as only doing what they do because they’re incapable of getting ‘real’ jobs. Teachers teach because they couldn’t get into law school. Politicians politic because Starbucks wouldn’t hire them. Etc., etc.
The irony of this view is that it’s largely propagated by politicians themselves, usually of the right wing persuasion. They diminish other practitioners of their chosen field and the concept of government itself in order to lessen its influence in our lives and open the door for further encroachment of free market principles into areas of our lives best kept in public trust. So all politicians (except for the right thinking ones) are 2nd-rate, lazy, inept, overpaid, underworked and only in it for themselves. The bureaucracy is bloated and ineffective. There’s too much red tape. We pay too much in taxes and get too little in services.
They rile us up, get elected and start to slash and burn with abandon, crippling the very system they claim to be fixing. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy as the government’s ability to contribute positively to our well-being is hampered, ultimately serving to prove Ronald Reagan’s campaign declaration that government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.
That was patently absurd back in 1980, of course, and remains very much so. Government is us and if anyone, politician or not, tries telling you otherwise, they are simply lying and doing nothing short of the devil’s work. We adhere to such a destructive ideology at our own peril and with our eyes wide open. It is laziness on our part; an unwillingness to get involved and to make hard choices that will sometimes mean greater sacrifices on our part to serve the greater good. That’s what a good politician does. It’s called public service.
More of us should take a trip down to City Hall and see for ourselves that, in fact, most of our elected officials and their bureaucracy are dedicated in their pursuit of doing just that.
— cheerleadingly submitted by Cityslikr
I think it would be informative to have the profile of Del Grande. In the past he made comments that were offensice to Asians like Ford… The Vice Chair is Ford’s brother; Doug who inherited his Ward 2 seat rather than duke it out with Lindsay Luby OR Hall.
You consider RF “Asian”?
Do you read your posts before hitting the button?
Just getting the jump on the boys at AFUITBS. I haven’t read the post above yet and I’m dreading it, but here goes….
No, but in an interview with the Scarborough Mirror’s David Nickle; Del Grande implied that White people were moving out because Chinese people were moving in. RF said something about the Chinese…
Sonny, does that make Del Grande a bad person?
You commented with out reading the article! Do you get a high from posting? If the premise of the Ford regime is efficiency why 14 hours vs the planned 12? The fact is there are all kinds of people moving out and all ethnicities moving into Toronto. Budgetting should take into account the people they serve rather than limit the numbers based on prejudice OR stereotype.(my beef)
Sonny, I did read the article but not before I commented on your post.
Why 14 hours and not 12? I don’t know as I wasn’t there. Were you? What’s the big deal anyway, at least they are working.
Are you trying to say that Del Grande is prejudiced?
Dear Mr. Yeung,
In case you missed it, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke issued a plea for people to not engage with Mr. MacQuarie as it only seems to encourage his continued malevolent presence. Here’s the link if you want to see our reasoning. http://afuitbs.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/the-wrecking-crew/#comment-1479
We have learned from bitter experience that Mr. MacQuarie has no desire to engage in reasonable dialogue. It seems he just needs to vent in order to prove to himself (erroneously, as it turns out) that he has anything of value to contribute. Attempting to conduct a sensible conversation with him is like stepping into intellectual quicksand. You are quickly submerged and smothered under the weight of pettiness, bile and banality. Proceed at your own risk.
OMG, what naivity – you’re so easily impressed.
I don’t think you’re going to have much of a career. Why not write shorter sentences with less “technique”? Your posts are way too “busy”, chocked full of everything you learned in those three creative writing classes you went to last year. Don’t you realise your audience already loves you (probably writes just like you) and your posts don’t make it beyond them? Try doing something useful with your “talent”.
P-MacQ… you’re like the guy at a party that has something to say about every topic that someone brings up… and turns everyone off said topic. Eventually, everyone just avoids being in the same room as you.
I feel sorry for you. You feel all powerful and smart when attacking other people’s thoughts, yet feel personally offended when someone disagrees with yours.
When you can’t find something bad to say about an opinion, you pick on spellling and grammer… Sonny wrote: “…made comments that were offensice to Asians like Ford.” So there’s a spelling error, a missing comma, and the word “did” was left off the end of the sentence. You should get the point of what was meant.
Then again… keep posting your drivel… it gives me something to laugh at during the day.
Looking forward to reading about my lack of intelligence, bad spelling & grammer, or how I should go back to finger painting with my pre-school friends.
Mk, you’re like cityslkr. He doesn’t like it when I criticise or challenge his commentary. Guys like him get left-minded people a bad reputation.
Thanks for feeling sorry for me, I really appreciate that, considering we don’t “know” each other and only “meet” here.
If you think I feel powerful and smart you must think cityslkr does too. Mind you, it doesn’t bother me what you think. You remind me of the guy at a party who bores everybody with his one topic and follows everyone from room to room unaware that his “friends” are trying to avoid him.
Picking on spelling and grammar (correct spelling, BTW) in these situations is boring. The boys at AFUITBS are quick to do that kind of stuff but it’s a sure sign of weakness. (Like the guys who use Hitler references or liken people to Don Cherry.)
I questioned Sonny’s grammar because he’s posted some weird stuff in the past and went dark on me after trying to get some clarification. Not that I need to justify any of my actions to you but notice that I did not comment on his mis-spelling.
No worries, I intend to do as I please and you should do the same. cityslkr would prefer that you do not respond to any of my posts. Lefties like him make me cringe but in this case you might wish to take your orders from him since I really do think you need to get a life if you take the time to laugh at my drivel. You might even consider your own advice, you’re obviously lightweight for this forum.