By G.D. Maxwe
The Rt. Hon. Gordon Campbell
Premie of all British Columbia
Im certain youll forgive my presumption, using your nickname, but it is that very subject about which I write.
The buzz around the mouldy halls of the Legislature is that you and the rest of your cabal are even more bereft of ideas about how to pull the province out of its tailspin than usual. I guess that makes sense as we grind toward the midterm doldrums and all the good ideas you came to office with have pretty much been executed as have the hopes and dreams of so many whiney British Columbians.
And lets face it, those less generous than I and dont kid yourself Gordo, there are a lot of folks in what youve come to call the heartland who are way less generous than I am, unless you consider carrying around your picture, albeit glued to a paper practice target, as a sign of endearment would be quick to point out that you didnt have many good ideas to run out of to begin with.
I understand a tsunami of new cutbacks is headed our way. More user fees. Fewer services. Longer waits. Guess thats understandable, what with the Great Revitalization having fizzled like a sparkler tossed carelessly into a punch bowl at a party celebrating a future yet to be seen.
My memory isnt what it used to be but werent we supposed to be running a budget surplus by now? Awash with new businesses drawn to the province like flies to coagulating blood? Jobs and opportunities thick as manna?
Or is that next year? Or next term, you presumptuous rascal you?
Wasnt the new, Liberal regime of lower taxes, less red tape, fewer pesky regulations nitpicking about trivialities like air and water quality supposed to bootstrap B.C. back to her glory days? What happened?
And more to the point, whaddya gonna do about it?
Oh yeah, I forgot; more cutbacks, fewer services, doing less with less.
Maybe its time to revisit your model Gordo. Seems silly to me to stick with something that isnt working when there are so many other things that wont work you havent tried.
I remember when I used to work at this big bank back east. Like banks do every few years, this one had gone lemming-like over a cliff, pockets stuffed with worthless loans made to big corporations in the U.S., governments in South America, halfassed forays into the Far East and the usual, heavy baggage of mismanagement. Their solution to this recurring dilemma was an innovative combination of cost-cutting, human sacrifice, thinking happy thoughts and hoping the problem would go away. Hey, I bet they hired the same consultants you guys used.
Anyway, bored to tears one day and noodling with one of those new personal computers, I modeled the Ultimate ToughLove Cost-Cutting Scenario™. Stripped of all its polysyllabic consultant-type words, the UTC-CS cut costs like no other bold plan before it. It went after costs like there was no tomorrow, which, come to think of it, was its core premise. In truth, what it amounted to was a lock-the-door-and-turn-off-the-lights plan. In other words, close the bank. Boy, talk about cutting costs!
The model pretty much proved what my gut was telling me you cant cost-cut your way out of a mess because after youve cut all the costs, all youre left with is the mess.
Anyway Slash, that aint what I wanted to write you about but you better think twice about this cutback thing before the whole province other than Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler winds up with a big CLOSED sign hung on the door.
What I wanted to bend your ear about was one of your earlier cutbacks, one you probably ought to reconsider. Ill be honest with you, this ones touching me personally so theres more than the usual dose of enlightened self interest working here. In my own defense though, I thought it was a really shortsighted, yes, almost stupid, cutback to begin with.
Its one of those things you aped from Ralphie Klein. Cuttin physiotherapy out of MSP, to be specific. Now when Ralphie stopped footin the tab for physios, you know what happened? People stopped going to physios and started taking their aches and pains to doctors. Docs cost more than physios and generally are of limited help when physio is whats needed instead of, say, surgery or drugs. This isnt a knock at docs but you wouldnt expect your car mechanic to be able to do much with your broken washing machine, would you?
Not only did cutting physios off the teat drive up costs, it also left people suffering or on surgical lists when they might well have responded to the ministrations of talented hands. Now, Im probably as callous to the suffering of others as you are but lets be honest, when people are suffering, theyre less productive. Ahh a holy word. Got your attention now?
Anyway, Ive been doing MSP-covered physio to get my reconstructed digit digiting again. I wont go into how over-equipped and underworked the hospital physio is where I attend but I will say if my personal, private Goddess of Physiotherapy saw as few patients as the hospital seems to handle, Id assume she was going out of business. And there arent enough columns in a year to go into quality of care issues.
But Im moving back to Whistler and the free ride is over. Truth be told, Im giddy and overwhelmingly happy to dig into my own pocket to cover Allisons very reasonable fees. Thats partly because she, unlike the hospital physio, understands the handbone is connected to the armbone instead of the legbone or whatever the other physio thought articulated it. But its mostly because I couldnt stand watching hurt people come into the hospital physio office pleading to be moved up on the wait list when I kind of thought I was wasting their time. They, apparently having never seen a hand injury before, might be able to help those other people with more familiar needs.
If you still covered private physios, those other folks might be back leading productive holy word again lives instead of honing their Quasimodo impersonations. And it would probably even save some bucks.
In the meantime, Ill break into peoples homes and steal their TVs to pay for physio if I have to, which, fortunately I dont. Mostly its because Id like to have full use of my right hand back but secretly, deep down in my heart Slash, its because the next time I wave at you Id like to have only the one finger raised, not the middle one and the one next to it that wont bend.