Monday, April 19, 2010

The Many Layers Complicate Issues

It's been said that there are no good policies, and no bad ones - there are only policies with multiple pros and cons, and every group or individual must decide which outweighs the other... ultimately, this is what makes a policy good or bad.
Unfortunately, each groups interests along with our natural aversion to actually educating ourselves (since this would take time and effort) means that we rarely look at these policies and issues from any perspective other than our own. When this happens, we often see people "jump on the bandwagon", as they take their limited knowledge and narrow field of view, create a movement out of it and then bring along others in a civilized form of "mob mentality". Now, I'm not saying that this happens all the time, nor do I suggest I'm always guilt-free in this regard, but we all have to take a moment when we hear something in the media, and ask ourselves (before jumping to conclusions) whether or not we know the full story.
I'll use a current example in Vancouver right now. There is a huge group, calling themselves "Students Before Stadiums", who are protesting the fact that the BC government is spending hundreds of millions on the roof of BC Place, while the Vancouver Board of Education is $18 million dollars short of their own budget. Easy to get riled up in this situation, isn't it? The big, bad government spending money on something frivolous, while students are forced to sit in classes of 60, reading textbooks that are 30 years old because the poor Board of Education fights on their behalf....
Now, before I receive numerous emails condemning me for the above, take a breath and understand that I'm not saying I'm on either side of this debate... because I actually don't know all the details. Before I figure out if the Liberals are being irresponsible, I'd like to know how much revenue BC Place brings the province - because theoretically, the more money we have coming in, the more money we have to spend on things like education. Which is the next question - how much of the revenue that BC Place generates goes back to the public? And how has the Board of Education wound up $18 million dollars short in the first place? If they were a private business, they would have closed in failure long before they reach this point... maybe instead of continuing to run with a deficit, they should hold themselves accountable for the spending in the first place. And how much of the Board's money reaches the students themselves, in the form of teachers and supplies, versus how much of it is spent on top level administrative positions, whose salaries suck the money out before it even reaches the children?
You see, nothing is ever as black and white, cut and dried as it seems - and before we jump on any bandwagons, I think we all need to look at what brought it before us in the first place...

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