I've had this sitting in draft for months. I'm so slack it's not funny. It's a continuation of wild_irises
asking me to talk about Rob Ford.
Item One: A story is reported in the paper in which a City Counsellor is requesting increased funding in order to expand a program for city kids that is proving to be very successful. Ford repeatedly derides her for wasting taxpayer money. She finally snaps and tells him to "shut his fucking mouth". She later apologized for swearing, saying that she and others had worked really hard on this program and it was doing so many good things for the children involved that she just got really upset when he called it a waste of money.
The commenters on the article rant about "tax and spend liberals".
Item Two: Somebody writes an article about how the Ford-mandated spending cuts were responsable for a back-log in a trimming city trees. Those untrimmed branches came down during the ice storm and hundreds of thousands of people ended up being without power for up to a week. The last estimate I saw of how much it's going to cost to clean up all the damage hovers around
$106 million. The author of the article points out that by saving money on maintenance, Ford doubtlessly contributed to the damage and the resulting cost of the clean-up.
Commenters tell the writer he's an idiot for thinking that Ford could possibly have any control over an act of God like the ice storm and that liberals just want to throw money around like it grows on trees.
Item Three: Waaay back when Mike Harris was the Premier of Ontario and instituting his slash-and-burn policy on public services I read an irate letter to the editor in the local paper. The writer was pissed because his WheelTrans service had been cut. In the letter, he explained that he had voted for Harris because he wanted Harris to cut taxes and he agreed with service cuts - but he hadn't meant for the services he
needed to get cut.
I think of that letter a lot whenever I read anything about Ford Nation.
Every time we have an election there is always some candidate who claims that we pay too much property tax and they will reduce taxes without cutting services. I always toss their flyers in the recycling bin and tell people I won't vote for any politician who can't do math. I'm being facetious of course, I know perfectly well that they don't think they can lower taxes, they're just pandering. I also don't vote for politicians who insult my intelligence so whatever.
Ford did that, claiming that he was going to cut waste. There is no waste of course, so instead he's doing things like cutting tree-pruning on city owned land and fuck the consequences to all the people sitting in the cold and dark in 40-below weather. But instead of learning from that, the same people in "Ford Nation" are getting ready to vote for him again. And after watching them in action I finally got it. Waste isn't spending money on things we don't need. Waste is spending money on things I
I don't have kids so I shouldn't have to pay for schools. I own a car so I don't want to pay for the TTC. Cancel mental health outreach programs and harm reduction programs and after school programs, the jails will clean up the mess. Why spend money on maintaining parks, I have a perfectly good backyard. Sell the lots to developers and make the city some money.
Oddly, spending hundreds of thousands on ripping out bicycle lanes doesn't seem to come in for the same level of criticism. Go figure.
The thing is it would be really easy to just dismiss his supporters as hateful - and yeah, there is plenty of anger in there - but I think some of it is genuine desperation. Wages are stagnant. The job market is shrinking. The Tories keep making it harder and harder to get unemployment benefits. Canada came through the bank crash in comparatively good shape, but thanks to the feds our economy has been getting worse every year since. The price of housing in this city is through the fucking roof. People are feeling stretched and politicians play on that by telling them that the big chunk of money that gets added to their mortgage is getting frittered away on wine & cigarettes in homeless shelters.
The thing is that right-wing politicans have somehow managed to convince people that tax money is wasted. They point at all the things that cost them money on a day to day basis, and tell people that they would have more money for those things if they got to keep the tax portion. In reality, getting rid of taxes just means moving the costs directly onto the user, which always ends up being more expensive because the cost is split up among a smaller base of people. If you won't pay for taxes that fix roads then you have to replace the shocks on your car more often, etc. So people can afford even less while they watch their expenses balloon. And the conservatives point at the tax bill and say, "See if you just didn't have to pay that
you would have more money..."
This is not specifically a Ford problem and it seems to have infected every level of government. And I'm not sure how to even start addressing it. Ford is, however, a great example of what happens when people honestly believe that government doesn't do
anything and politicians spend their time taking baths in swimming pools full of cash. It doesn't matter that Ford is incompetent, has no idea what he's talking about half the time and contradicts himself the other half. It's not like he needs to knowledge or understanding or even a grasp of reality to do his job. It's why none of his supporters care that his staff cannot find him
on a regular basis when he is supposed to be in his office.
Whenever Ford speaks publicly he says that he saved the city money. That's all Ford Nation cares about. They don't even care about the part where everybody else keeps pointing out that his statements are just not true. I wish there was more focus on how bad he is at his job, and less on his hobbies but I'm not even sure that would make any difference to the people who vote for him.
Which Ford has said he's going to ask the Province to pay for. Because the cleanup money shouldn't come from the taxpayers. I swear I am not making this up.
WheelTrans is a program that provided public transit to people who cannot travel via standard means, usually due to requiring a wheelchair or some other mobility-assistance device. Massively underfunded. Go figure.
I've been hearing this since long before I became a homeowner. First time I actually got a municipal tax bill I was genuinely shocked at how little I was paying for all the bitching and moaning people do about it.
I never claimed to be quick.
Thanks to Paul Martin's government for putting regulations in place that restricted how extended Canadian banks are allowed to be - regulations that Harper lobbied against at the time. Of course Harper later took credit for the fact that Canada was one of the countries least impacted by the bank failures.
True story. There is a program at one of the men's shelters for clients who are pretty much at their end of their lives, but are so heavily addicted they would not stay at the shelter if they couldn't get an alcohol allowance. Providing them a small dose of wine a day keeps them out of an infinitely more expensive street-exposure-emergency services-extensive hospitalization-back on the street cycle and lets them finish out their lives in some dignity. Ford has campaigned to cut this program every single time the budget comes up for review, even though it's supporters point out that it would cost the city more to have cart the poor fuckers back to the hospital multiple times every winter.