Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The End is Nigh

If you want to read a great piece on how marvelously the Campbell government is doing preparing for its own demise, you must check out Bill Tieleman's latest blog entry:

Gordon Campbell leads BC Liberals into political Hurt Locker - prepare for casualties

As usual, Tieleman nails it.

100 % Wrong

The B.C. government's cuts to a dental program for low-income children will mean funding only half the preventative care.


This is so outrageous, so egregious a move by such a heartless, shoot-itself-in-the-ass government that all you can do is laugh.

Cut dental care for poor children?

What is this - Dickens' London?

Then, to add insult to injury, when told that MLA's and civil servants get full dental coverage, Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development, dismissed the comparison between Healthy Kids and the program for elected officials because MLAs contribute to their plan.

“That's co-pay, to start,” he said, while the government pays 100 per cent of the Healthy Kids plan.

In fact, B.C. MLAs don't pay for their dental plan, B.C.'s legislative comptroller Dan Arbic confirmed yesterday. “The dental plan for MLAs is the same as for public servants. It's 100-per-cent employer funded.”

Too bad, the good Minister doesn't know his own rules.

The government plan does fully cover twice-yearly dental checkups for the children of MLAs.

So the solution is simple.

For those children who have poor parents and rotting teeth, here's your plan.

Get your parents elected to government and then you can all have nice teeth!

See, everything is simple in Beautiful British Columbia!

Speak Up

Francois Houle has got to go.

He is the "vice-president academic and provost" for the University of Ottawa.

Quite a mouthful.

Failing utterly to understand, among other things, his role in a democratic Western society, Houle took it upon himself to send a friendly warning letter to someone who was about to be a guest speaker at his institution.

The speaker was a right-wing American shrieker cum clown cum entertainer cum 'journalist' whose name is Ann Coulter.

That's of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh Coulters.

So what?

We don't have to like or agree with or approve of every dog and pony show that comes our way.

But in a community that claims to pride ourselves on the protections of free speech, we honor that fading idea in action.

Coulter wants to speak, let her.

You want to disagree, carry on.

That's what we call democracy.

What we don't do - what people in places of power in swarms that call themselves "institutions of higher learning" - is send warning letters to such speakers about what they may or may not say.

It was my great displeasure to watch an infamous holocaust denier spew his lethal garbage all over the daily TV program of which I was the host (Oddly enough, also in Ottawa).

I then looked at the camera and voiced my disgust and dismay and sadness that this man must be heard.

Management was not happy with me, but that's their problem, isn't it?

Ann Coulter had to cancel her speech because the authorities feared violence.

Houle has disgraced his position, his University and our country.

Time to open that hot dog stand on the Kona Coast.

The Health Care List from "Underemployed Guy"

Here are a few ideas that don't easily fit into your questionnaire:

a) create more employment (and more taxes!);
b) reduce waste;
c) improve self-care and preventative programs (return sports funding);
d) license more foreign-trained specialists;
e) heavy fines for corporations that have large numbers of health-care claims;
f) cap doctors' billings and set minimum service levels;
g) a wage freeze for top-tier union employees (as part of a pay equity program);
h) bring back reference-based drug pricing;
i) place new doctors (& nurses & technicians?) in rural or northern communities for their first five years of service;
j) higher taxes on cigarettes, booze & gambling;
k) re-introduce the precautionary principle in genetic/pharmaceutical research (this causes greater problems than most people realize);
l) 100% user pay for purely cosmetic surgeries;
m) legalize and tax marijuana;
n) more peer-support for mental health patients;
o) develop humane euthanasia policies (that's a toughie!);
p) freeze tuition fees for "the healing professions";
q) allow people to pay (lots!) to jump waiting lists (including foreigners, who pay double lots);
r) huge crippling fines for any industrial toxic waste in the environment;
s) stricter enforcement of existing environmental laws;
t) free dental care for children;
u) government dental insurance for adults;
v) stop over-prescribing drugs;
w) make the Canadian Food Inspection agency answerable to the public, not industry;
x) promote volunteerism;
y) promote civil discourse;
z) and do something nice every day.

More Malcolm

The gentleman in question later sent me several "in house" technical videos of light rail operations. As well when I faxed him for information (which he always courteously replied to me) was to a the head office of a large transit concern.

The only city that has copied Vancouver's SkyTrain "light-metro" philosophy was Seattle and their new hybrid light rail/metro system is a costly fiasco.

Who else copies Vancouver - no one, I wonder why?

Most transit experts I talk to (and I have talked to a lot), who live outside of the lower mainland, have all echoed the same phrase: "the problem you have in Vancouver is SkyTrain!"

With a metro system where 80% of its customers first take a bus before using it, is an indication of massive problems.

The problem with SkyTrain is that the region is funding a hugely expensive metro system, that is operating on routes that do not have the ridership to support it. The result:

A $230 million+ annual subsidy (not including the Canada Line), which means every higher fares and taxes to pay for it.

You can continue to build with SkyTrain, but be prepared for larger property tax increases and higher fares to pay for it! There comes a point of taxpayer exhaustion, then what?