Editorial – Too many cooks do indeed spoil

Jeff Burgar

When it comes to government spending, an old joke very much applies. The joke is basically a one-liner.
Question: “What is an elephant.”
Answer: “An elephant is a horse designed by a committee.”
You may wonder why Canada’s health system is in such a shambles. The answer isn’t that our nation can’t afford it. The way governments spend money is mostly a matter of “What’s a few hundred billion more here and there?”
If money is available, it will be spent. And if it isn’t available, well, it will get spent anyway!
And of course, when people step forward to tell us if and where existing money can be saved, it’s usually at someone else’s expense. Close that department there. Cut the wages of those people here. Get rid of those people fixing these things and contract the job out. Get rid of all those profit greedy contractors. Somewhere in there is the fact rural votes aren’t as many as city votes. So it becomes a vicious loop, driving people out of the country into the cities.
At least Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told provincial premiers, all demanding more money for health care, “Sure. Just tell me where you are going to spend it.” So far, the answer is crickets.
Things are no better in our armed forces. Ships cost double and triple what the original quotes were. Plus, delivery dates for new ones are being pushed into the 2030s and longer.
Over in fastmover land, Canada is sort of finally ordering new fighter jets. It only took maybe 15 or 20 years once it sort of finally decided to replace the then 30-year old fighters we have. The ‘new’ jets are actually a 15-year-old design, but with lots of upgrades since the first ones came off the assembly line. Politicians say this is actually a good thing.
“All the bugs are worked out!”
Really? State-of-the-art upgrades will not have their own as yet unknown bugs?
But let’s be fair. Americans are knee-deep in looking for a replacement for their Bradley Fighting Vehicle – 17 years in fact. One brilliant idea long ago was to do what car manufacturers do – build a common basic platform for lots of different vehicles. This will save scads of money. Then modify the platform according to the needs of the various users.
This has worked so well, nobody was happy with what they were ending up with. The designs were too heavy. Not armoured enough. Too small a gun. Not big enough. Wouldn’t carry enough troops. Too big to fit many in a cargo plane. So after three different design programs, there is still no replacement in sight. Not to mention almost $30 billion spent.
In fact, this is a main criticism of Canada’s new fighter jets. So many compromises to do so many things, it isn’t ‘best’ at any one of them. Good. But not great.
Like Tom Cruise flying “old” Super Hornets instead of newer F-35s in Maverick. Or a Swiss Army knife. Or of course, our elephant of a hospital system trying to be a horse.

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