The other day I had a somewhat depressing run in with our city councillor who mistook his election as a mandate when it was a strong rejection of the development mad woman whom he replaced. We discussed two recent neighbourhood changes: one, the ludicrous changes to the traffic light around the corner to dis-allow right turns on red and demarcate a bicycle waiting zone that never has any bicycles in it, but a long line of idling cars behind the green paint, waiting to turn; and two, the addition of signs reminding folks it is illegal to panhandle on the highway off-ramp nearby.
Now having explained that the no-right turn on red had increased both smog and the danger to the school kids crossing at the light because now cars can only turn when pedestrians can cross and those cars are now full of much more impatient and irritated drivers and those kids are more full of smog, he actually said that they were looking at it and intended to add to the beginning of the pedestrian crossing times a time when cars could not turn right as well. So his proposed solution would actually make both the issues we complained about even worse. Longer idling wait times and more anger from the drivers. We have lived here for 25 years and the intersection was “improved” over the course of a couple of years and you can tell by the increased squealing tires and honking that the peculiar lane markings and cement island have really made it a pleasure to navigate. And yes, people have hit the added island and so has the snow plow of course.
Already distressed by the lack of logic this response demonstrated as well as a certain inability to actually listen to a constituent and be at least diplomatic, he somehow launched into apologizing for the do not pan-handle signs, which I have been pleased by. It is a really sad business, and I mean business, that runs these “homeless” men. They clearly are pimped out, share a bicycle and a cardboard sign, and have shifts, a sentiment the councillor readily agreed with. Both the Shepherd’s of Good Hope and the Mission here in Ottawa have asked people not to give them money. I have personally been wanting to paint “do not feed the bears” on the overpass. If you pay people to lurk on the off-ramp with a Tim Horton’s cup, you will get people lurking on the off-ramp. It is a pretty lucrative spot too, if you do the math on their hourly take. But there is no dignity or future in this. And these gentlemen have demonstrated an ability to stay on their feet for hours while almost working. Sell me a gall-darned pencil at least you nitwits! But back to the councillor. He apologized for those signs and started saying, “Progressives like us …” but I was retreating in horror.
Now it seems to me that the last thing a progressive would do is hand a beggar a dollar with no strings attached, and it would appear that not only am I right, a progressive would have probably wanted to sterilize them on the spot and have them slowly starve. But don’t take my word for it, as other people have said it much better:
EconTalk Episode with Thomas Leonard