Prioritizing needs a tough choice

It’s the time of year here in Nova Scotia when we all start to complain about the state of our roads.
Truth be told, we complain about roads all year long, but it is a heightened complaint now–bordering on rage and hysteria. It’s what we do.
Holes appear in the pavement that can gobble up a car, demolish shocks, or destroy a tire at the very least. It is a bit like complaining about the weather, though; it doesn’t seem to change anything.
I think we often complain about government spending when we come from a “have” province, where the available tax dollars seem more able to cover all our needs, demands, and requests.
But the same can’t be said for “have not” provinces here in the Maritimes. There quite simply isn’t enough money to go around and we/government has to choose how the available dollars are spent.
I was thinking about those choices and how we priorize the long lists of “needs.” Not a simple undertaking.
Health care and access to a physician certainly is on the lips of Canadians country-wide. It never seems such a big deal when we are healthy but a scary situation when we are not.
The waiting list for diagnostic procedures seems a long one, I hear regularly here in Nova Scotia.
I grew up in a relatively easy time. Jobs were abundant. If you didn’t like your job, you changed it. I was able to pay for my university education from my own savings and summer jobs without financial aid from my parents or government.
That is a thing of the past.
So what is the priority of government spending on the top of my list or in the first round draft picks? To care for those who can’t care for themselves; to break the cycle of poverty that tends to gobble up and hold in chains those born into it.
Children passing through and living in child-care services often are not winning the game and I wonder if those resources would be better spent on parents, usually single mothers, struggling within poverty.
The quality of education and opportunities within education for our youth is so very important to ensure they have greater opportunities than the generation before; that we actually are learning from our mistakes.
Nellie McClung, a women’s rights activist in this country born in 1873, is credited with saying, “Why are pencils equipped with erasers if not to correct mistakes.” She makes a valid point.
There are no easy answers, but for now I need to quit grumbling about the roads while still demanding that best practices are used and that the deep history of corruption in this and in many provinces, when it comes to contract assignments for roads and any other number of spending ventures, is a thing of the past.
Maclean’s magazine reported in 2010 that Quebec wins the current corruption race, and went on to reprint what one appeared in the Montreal Gazette: “The record of political chicanery is so overflowing in the Maritimes that they could likely teach Quebec a few tricks.”
John A Macdonald, aside of his other blemishes, received $10,000 (a hefty sum in those days) in return for giving the nod for the railway contract to a certain company. So corruption is nothing new, for sure, when it comes to how government dollars are spent.
For now, I will imagine the future that current government spending provides for and, if I was the one opening and shutting the purse of our tax dollars, where I would spend that money.
It’s an exercise we all should do. And for now, I’ll drive more slowly around the holes in the roads I regularly traverse.
wendistewart@live.ca

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