Hello happy taxpayers
Out of the 7 dwarfs who campaigned to be elected Minor of Toronto, only 4 remain. Grumpy, Doc, Bashful and Dopey. Grumpy, with the help of the creatures of the Burbs, set the tone for the campaign. He would stop the gravy train that was threatening to open a deficit hole in the magic kingdom. He would cut everything that was growing in the revenue forest. And with nobody remaining to serve the public and no money left in the treasure, he would singlehandedly -with the help of his giant flagpole carrier Mammoliti- provide an Excellent Customer Service to the good car driving, football playing and barbecue eating citizens of Toronto. This plateform was so bad that Doc and Dopey immediately copied it. Meanwhile, Bashful the Gardener clenched his tiny fists and proclaimed as loud as he could -that is whispered- to anyone who would listen to him -that is no-one- that he -unlike the others- will protect the beautiful garden built by King Miller, will jump to the throat of the Evil Step Province and make it regurgitate the stolen gold. This show could be quite enjoyable if it was not another bitter taste of our future. Once again, Toronto is at the avant garde of the world's devolution. Not because public spending is demonized while corporate mismanagement, waste and corruption is easily forgiven. This is not new and already applies in most of the so-called developed world. However, another brick in the wall that is being built in our ever tightening public space is the constant reference to customer service. As Josh Hume wrote, we're apparently a city of customers now. Not citizens, residents or even taxpayers, but customers, entitled to a dollar for dollar return on our tax investment. According to Roger Keil, the nomenclature is a symptom of a decade long shift in the contract between government and citizens. The idea of public service, public ownership and public control is being turned into its opposite which is the idea that we are all individual nomads roaming the city in our own self interest. According to Frank Cunningham, thinking of people as customers has the effect of dampening the notion of civic engagement, the idea of working together for the common good. Instead it pits citizens against one another, competing for whatever resources they think the city can provide for them individually. A city without social tissue would only be a giant complex comprising warehouses where human being are stored, hamster wheels where they are used and dairy farms where they are milked. The infrastructure is already available, residential condos providing the warehouses, Bay street suites the hamster wheels and malls the milking units. Moreover this kind of city already exist in some new suburbs where Mc Mansions are built overnight on former farmlands and actually look like units of a factory farm even though their owner are persuaded they bought the winning ticket to upper class bliss. If we don't want to import this kind of livestyle in our beloved Toronto, maybe we should try to behave a little bit more like happy taxpayers, trying to fix as much as possible the inevitable problems that such a huge, diverse and multicultural city is bound to have, but not throwing the baby out with the bath water.