Parasite Control, Chemical-Free

If we compared and contrasted organizational behaviour of private enterprises with that of publicly-funded agencies, we would see that the actions of all organizations to a great extent mimic human behaviour: survival of the entity is paramount.  Simply put, just like you and I, all organizations want to wake up tomorrow morning in as good (or better) a shape as they are today.

Businesses, their survival threatened by forces of competition, respond by innovation: Henry Ford resorted to assembly lines; post-war Japan relied on clever copying, product miniaturization and assembly automation.  In each case the responses were predicated on a simple concept: companies that make the most efficient use of manpower and capital are those most likely to experience growth as consumer demand increases for their less-expensive, better quality products.  They are the ultimate survivors.

But the forces of organizational Darwinism are markedly different when we look at the behaviour of publicly-funded agencies.  They are not subject to the demands of external competition; there is no other Ministry of Environment, there is only one Conservation Authority operating in any given area.  The only competition is internal, a kind of sibling rivalry that occurs in nests - the squabbling chicks of the different ministries squawk for an ever-larger portion of the tax-payer's carcass.  Just like gull nestlings, the noisiest and greediest have the best chance of growth and survival.  An agency with ten employees can be eradicated with scarcely a whimper; try to march a few thousand public servants into oblivion and you'll have some opposition.  So the very qualities that ensure the continued existence and subsequent expansion of private enterprises – efficiencies of labour and capital – are public enemy number one in government circles.

Back to our squabbling chicks for a minute.  A squawk, to be properly heard, must have three qualities: volume, duration and plaintiveness.  The first two are easy; the last one takes creativity and practice.  The most plaintive cries tug at voter's heartstrings or send shivers down their backs: environmental concerns, public safety issues, child welfare topics.  It's all about the world we want our children to live in, isn't it?  Mix in a tone of impending disaster and the Ministers of Revenue can't help themselves, they reflexively disgorge the cash required to undertake the fix: invariably the creation or expansion of a regulatory agency.  It's a rather exquisite form of parasitism: your tax dollars pay for the expansion of an organism that takes an ever-increasing amount of your cash to sustain its growth.  Tapeworm or tumor, you take your pick, but one thing is sure, it's going to keep eating away at you until there's nothing left …if you let it.

Well Doctor Mac, you've diagnosed the malady, how about a cure?  Okay, back to our parasite analogy for a minute.  You get rid of parasites by two methods: cut off the food source, or make the environment inhospitable.  The first alternative - applied to governments - means cutting off the cash.   And although our municipal governments and tag-along-agencies moan about downloading, and point their fingers at Queens Park as the culprit when they raise property taxes or implement some regulatory nonsense, they really are quite glad that it happened – because they are now in expansion mode.

This point was driven home recently at a meeting hosted by our local Conservation Authority, ostensibly soliciting input for the implementation of their Land Theft Policy, sorry, Natural Heritage Strategy.  Under questioning by Glengarry Landowners, several government types admitted that Glengarry County - with huge areas of mature forest and wetlands, all preserved by private landowners - was not in need of ecological salvation.  But they pointed to the inflexible decrees from Queens Park: “We have no choice.”   My suggestion, that these public servants could stand up and say “No”, was met with embarrassed silence, which prompted this quip from Shawn McRae, one of our Directors: “Oh no, you can't, because the money would dry up, wouldn't it?”  One man's problem is another man's solution. We need to elect municipal leaders who can stand up and say no, leaders who will turn off the tap.

Let's move on to the second method of curtailing parasitic growth: creating an unfavourable environment.    It's simple and its fun.  Join your local Landowner Association and get the sign up at the end of your laneway.  Just like a real estate agent's “For Sale” sign, BACK OFF GOVERNMENT sends a clear and constant message at little cost. And phone your council-members and let them know you're sick and tired of them pissing away your tax-dollars.  Get out to your council meetings and say the same thing in public, after all, you paid for the Town Hall.  And put some thought and effort into the next municipal elections, or it will keep eating away at you.

Jamie Macmaster

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