Pounds foolish

February 7, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Remember how 2001 – A Space Odyssey began? Man’s primate ancestors  screaming at each other from opposite banks of a river. They had clubs of heavy animal bones in their hands and they were banging them on the ground, to make a noise – bang. Bang – screaming, long white teeth flashing, fit to terrify. They were equally terrifying.

Came the day: a mighty blow in the hands of one smashed the skull of another and intentional murder, for its own sake, was committed.

I asked the question and just thought for a moment about the answer: it would take 200 million $5 bills to make a billion dollars. End to end, they would run to 31,309 kilometres, fully twice the distance from here to Sydney, Australia. 

What I am trying to say is that one billion dollars is a great deal of money. It is also the common currency of even minor governments nowadays, never mind what big governments are spending.

The lack of respect for this wallop of money first came into my view when Dalton McGuinty, then premier of Ontario, through arrogance, mismanagement and then, slimy politics, blew away a billion dollars. You will recall: first, he dictated that two gas plants would be built in Oakville and Mississauga, very much against the wishes of the local populace; building was commenced and lots of money was spent as the project grew. Then, fearful of losing the provincial legislature seats in that area, and maybe power altogether at Queen’s Park, with an upcoming election, he ordered the partly built gas plants to be torn down and the project moved elsewhere.

Although his successor, Kathleen Wynn, did her party’s best to dodge the truth, it would out: McGuinty had completely wasted a billion dollars of the taxpayers’ money. Following that, to hear  politicians compete with each other on how many billions they are going to spend on this  project and that study, never results in a true analysis or breakdown of how that huge wad of money is actually being spent.

Now that our modern day primates-in-suits are banging the bones of their missiles on either side of the Ocean, the already mountain range of money being spent on weapons – on the senseless destruction of everything- will increase multi-fold and far outweigh all the money in the whole wide world spent on doing anybody any good.

Trump led the way but the other sheep – NATO – followed, agreeing and condoning his rhetoric. Putin, crazy like Trump, to prove that he is not an old man, jumped up and down on his side of the Pond, ready to prove that he has as much money and as little sense and humanity as his opponent. 

We condemn countries with false or no “democracy.” Yet, on both sides of this disaster there is what passes for democracy in the USA and less so in Russia and not to be left out, China. All toting the identical philosophy of wasting billions. 

I can hear scientists everywhere beginning to calculate the likely harm of a slue of nuclear missiles being tested in space – never quite far enough out not to have an influence on planet earth. Even without actually blasting each other’s cities off the face of the earth, this increased race of terror will certainly have an effect on all our heads. 

And, to what end, children, really? Can you imagine letting tiny tots beat each other like this in the play yards? Brought into the principal’s office, calls home to the parents, “your children have been fighting again. Better take them to a psychologist, get them on drugs.” Take them to a boxing gym or a dojo and let them work off their hostility.

They were talking about Syria and Yemen on the CBC the other day, about how to resolve such a long-term state of war.

“Of course,” says one man, “war is very profitable. There will be those who aren’t interested in peace.” 

Donald, for a start, with his shiny multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which the murder of one busy-body journalist was not going to affect. Lip service, no problem. Donald’s best buddies in the war industry will really be licking their chops, with a bright future building nukes – they’re the most expensive of all!!

Where does this leave the United Nations – with all its committees and affiliated organizations established and designed to promote universal peace, and so much more?

There are good people, with wisdom, money, power in politics, and industry; there are  voices that can catch the ears of the world and they will do their best to quell, to mitigate the dangers. Yet, none of them stand on the top of the heap.

The years of the Cold War were a constant strain, even without the internet. Yet, in the 1980’s, wisdom somehow ended them. It can happen again.

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