It comes down to sidewalks.

Do we trust our governments to spend our tax money wisely? What kind of democracy is this when our municipal politicians hew to the right or left of the political divide? In Toronto, that supposed haven of liberalism, the debate rages at city council about the costs of mechanically clearing sidewalks of snow or the alternative of threatening home owners with fines if they do not clear the sidewalk in front of their properties.

A friend called the other day in high dudgeon on the issue. He had recently had a 75th birthday and did not appreciate being threatened. Sure, he said, in years gone by, he had given his stretch of sidewalk a thorough shovelling, as needed. The time has come, he told me, for the city to take over. And, instead, they were arguing among themselves as to whether it was properly the responsibility of the city.

This, to me, has got to be one of the stupider aspects of conservatism. These people want smaller, cheaper government that does not involve itself in the concerns of the populace. They admit that it is more sensible for the city to plow the streets rather than everyone clearing the road in front of their home or business.  They just do not understand that heart attacks, hernias, frost bite and broken bones from slips and falls incurred when shovelling snow, cost us much more in the long term, than small sidewalk plows clearing our sidewalks.

As for my ancient friend, I advised him to contract with a 13 or 14-year old nascent capitalist in his neighbourhood who would shovel his walk and driveway for a reasonable sum. He can stay in by the fire and clip some coupons to pay for it.

And if he is still annoyed about the city councillors arguing about the expenditure, he could compose another cogent letter to the editor of the Toronto Star explaining why the right-wing councillors are fighting a losing battle.

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