In the midst of all this seasonal joy and hilarity and sing-songing and retrospecting, there is a constant need for perspective, an imperative to bring us back to earth.
With that in mind, this is exactly the right time to present the Worst Ideas of 2012, with a special emphasis on the National Capital Region.
1. A casino for downtown. What more needs to be said? Negligible contribution to the economy, if any, social problems galore. The truly classy cities of the world shun casinos. It would be nice if we could be among them. Think how it would improve the life, not to mention the image of the city, if downtown got a new library instead of a new casino.
2. Two-tier recess. This one might have gone unnoticed if not for coverage in the Citizen. Some elementary schools are adopting a plan under which special programs are available at recess for children whose parents fork over the money. Can you imagine any responsible educator even looking once at such a program? The kids with less money stand and watch the kids with more money have fun? The reason we have public schools is so that every child can receive the same level of education. If these programs are that good, the school boards should pay for them and make them available to all. Either that or ditch the idea altogether.
3. Robocalls, political or otherwise. It’s bad enough that they have been allowed to intrude into elections, but even without that it’s bad. Why should machines be allowed to disturb us in our homes? It’s bad enough that telemarketers interrupt our dinners, but at least these are human beings earning a meagre wage. Ban the robocalls. If we are to be called, let a human being do the dialing, for Pete’s sake, and pay him some money.
4. Social media — or, more precisely, talking about social media. Facebook, Twitter and whatnot are either going to survive or not. Who knows? But do the mainstream media have to be so fixated on them, as if they were as newsworthy as war, starvation or, more to the point, climate change? A related bad idea in the mainstream media is treating Twitter feeds as if they were news. Nobody cares about somebody’s 140 characters and, as we’ve seen in recent tragic events, they are often horrendously wrong.
5. Siri. Hey, you can talk to you phone and tell it what to do. You can tell it to play you a samba or call your uncle. You can ask your phone where the nearest sushi is. What a contribution to mankind. Think of the useful products that could be coming out of our economic system, think of the serious problems our economic system could be solving if it wasn’t expending all its creative energy on phones.
6. Condos. Enough already. Our city needs at least some small houses, small stores. We’re losing them every day as new condos rise, ever higher. The arguments for intensification are familiar to us all. But this is getting too intense.
Since this a complicated world, we must take account of some ideas that are iffy. They may be good, they may be bad. We’ll just have to wait and see. In this category we would place such things as postal delivery changes, every-other-week garbage pickup and additional lanes on the Queensway.
We shouldn’t omit thoughts of the best ideas of the year. There were some. As always, the NCC Christmas lights were gorgeous downtown, although perhaps a bit cut back, in the Scrooge-ish spirit of the times.
The Rink of Dreams at City Hall is terrific. Check it out at night if you haven’t seen it. By year’s end it will have accommodated more skaters than the National Hockey League.
And finally, here’s a good idea that not everyone expected: light rail.