Today we meet an old friend of ours, Western Economic Diversification:
Dan Albas, Member of Parliament for Okanagan—Coquihalla, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced federal funding that has been provided for upgrades to the Logan Lake Recreation Centre under the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).
“Modernization of the Logan Lake Recreation Centre will improve the safety of the facility and enhance local community services,” said MP Albas. “With today’s investment, our Government is demonstrating our commitment to creating jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity.”
The Harper Government’s investment of $138,300 will enhance the services provided by the District of Logan Lake’s Recreation Centre, and will make it safer and easier to access for people of all physical abilities. Specifically, the funding will construct new entry ways and install an elevator to the second floor.
Please keep in mind that the federal government spends about $276 billion dollars a year. This is the tinniest of tiny examples of micro-pork, a political habit the Tories did not invent but seem to be raising into an artform. The town of Logan Lake has a population of about 2160 as of the 2006 census. The Harper government's "investment" of $138,300 works out to about $64 per resident. Or to put it another way, had Dan Albas kicked in his yearly salary of $157,731, the taxpayers of the nation might have been sparred the expense.
Mr Albas carried the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, where Lake Logan is situated, by 29 points in the previous election. We can reasonably describe this as a safe Tory seat. It was previously represented by Stockwell Day from 2000 until his retirement in 2011. Day was parachuted into the riding after winning the Canadian Alliance leadership. If there is one riding in the Dominion the Tories don't have to bribe to win, it would likely be this one.
Yet they did it anyway.
Could not the local municipality have tacked an extra $64 onto the property taxes to fund the construction of an elevator to the second floor? Assuming this is something the community actually wanted. Getting a bit more particular you might ask why this recreation centre doesn't charge user fees. Why should people who never use this centre have to pay for it? I'm having to pay for it and I had to look up Lake Logan on a map.
You're yelling at the screen right now, as you so often do when reading this blog, telling me that I'm being cruel and heartless. What about the disabled people who will use that elevator? Isn't it a good thing that people who can't climb stairs get to the second floor? Assuming there is something of value on the second floor, yes it would be. But that's not the real question. The question is why the government has to build elevators in recreation centres. Even assuming that it is a proper function of the government to run and maintain such centres, why is it the role of the federal government to do so? What do they know of Lake Logan, who only Ottawa know?
Identifying a need, like elevators to the second floor, does not automatically require a government funded solution. There is no end to human needs and wants. Once it was considered sufficient to just keep the criminals, both foreign and domestic, away from the peaceful and law abiding. At some point further down the line it became imperative that the government guarantee that no one starved. A few years after that it was decided that the state should ensure provision for old age. Then for higher levels of education. Then health care. Now recreation centres. In the Netherlands a few years back there was a pilot project providing tax financed whores.
A government that sets out to protect us from every risk, failing and misfortune ceases to be in any sense a free government. When the state does everything for you it stops being a government at all and morphs into father, mother and rich uncle to the nation. Since no organization, no matter how large and well financed, can be all things to all people, the security the all encompassing state provides is rather tattered. Despite the billions spent on health care we still have waiting lists. Despite the billions spent on education we have no shortage of illiterates. Despite the billions spent on building recreation and community centres most people, if given half a chance, would prefer to hang out at the local mall.
This is the logical end point of the all encompassing state. The federal government subsidizing elevator construction in a small town in the BC interior. The next step, if it's feasible, is to have Stephen Harper, or an actor playing him, show up every night at the bedroom door ready to tuck us in. Perhaps he could even install an elevator while he's there.