Rickter Scale: A novel approach to balancing the books

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

When they’re not on strike or staging job action, Canada Post employees carry the mail through rain, wind, hail, sleet and snow.

Not, however, that extra couple of blocks if they can’t find a parking space.

Canada Post Corporation has wracked up $7.5 million in parking tickets during the past 10 years, hitting a high water mark of $914,831 in 2016. That kind of coin would be much better utilized by providing clean water issues for Indigenous communities, replacing obsolete equipment in our hospitals; anything that will improve the country we call home. Whatever is front and centre on your wish list for how government spends our money, it certainly isn’t fattening municipal coffers with revenue from parking fines.

While we live in an age where a billion has become the new million in terms of how we look at the bottom line, wasting any amount with six zeros attached to it should be cause for concern. Even if it sounds like chump change compared to the $270 million sea of red ink this particular crown corporation in charge of our mail drowned in last year.

However, good luck finding a leader of any federal party ready to wade into that pool during the fevered pitch of an election campaign.

Saving taxpayers a million or so a year simply by exempting Canada Post vehicles from the consequences of getting caught by some eagle-eyed bylaw enforcement officer should be an absolute no-brainer.

That ain’t about to happen any time soon, however, when Justin, Andrew, Elizabeth, Jagmeet et al are on the campaign trail throwing bags of our money around like rice at a wedding.

Affordable housing? We can fix that forever with a mere $40 billion over the next five years. Child care? We got that covered as well with a few billion in pocket change. Fair prescription drug pricing? Nothing a few billion from our rainy day fund can’t fix, even though we’ve been kicking that can down the road for more years than anyone can remember.

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The common chorus during the competing choirs of campaign promises is the same old song and dance routine, “We’ll spend whatever we need to buy your vote. What about trying to save some money, you say? Maybe we’ll take a peek at balancing the books or reducing the debt when we’re four years further down the road to ruin,” delivered with a wink and a nod.

Our fearless leaders have turned this election in particular into another opportunity to fixate the shrinking flock of faithful voters on promises they’re under no obligation to keep.

When I was in my teens, my dad used to repeat this mantra ad nauseam, “Politics, the more you know the less you wanna know.”

Sounded a tad defeatist to me when I was young and cloaked in the innocence of vague, naive ideals. Sadly, though, the older I get, the more I find myself agreeing with my father.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

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