November, 2008 browsing by month


Hours to go…

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

The suspense is killing me. We have endured a record two-year election campaign and the end is less than five hours away assuming there are no shennanigans like there were in Florida that ushered in the past eight disastrous years.

Is Obama really poised to make history as the first african-american president or will Palin be the first woman veep? It’s looking like it’s actually going to be the former rather than the latter.

It is amazing to me that there is such a divergent ethos in the United States: one that thinks the country is on the right couirse, despite two unpopular wars, and an economy in the deepest dumps since the 1930’s and the other, promises change from the status quo and hope for the future.

There is disappointment around the bend, however, because no matter who wins the White House real sacrifices are going to have to be made- none of which has been mentioned by either candidate.

If McCain were to be elected, God forbid, the disappointment is that he represents none of the change he preports himself to be. He sold out to the base of the Republican Party and change will come in the form of White House stationery in addition to Obama’s challenges.

If Obama is elected, there is going to be none of the gravy-money sitting around for his pet-projects. The American government is awash in debt with the current annual deficit equalling about $3,300.00 for every man, woman and child living in the country.

The only solace that comes with Obama is that his and the Democratic party’s view of America and the world are real; they are based in reality. There is no “war almost won” for the Dems, or strong economic fundamentals. They also are refusing to buy into the fear mentality that has ruled the Republican-dominated Washington D.C. since 9/11.

In 2000 when George Bush stole the election I consoled myself by thinking,”How bad can things get in four short years?” Boy was I wrong.

Eight years later and we have seen the United States transform itself from being a leading country in all aspects of human endeavour to being a delusional, punch-drunk shadow boxer well past its glory after too many swings at the moths flitting about the light-bulb.

So it is with high hopes that after today we, the citizens of the planet, will have our world back after having it kidnapped by Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the rest of the Republican gangsters.

It will be a happy day tomorrow if only because we have persevered through some of the darkest times in modern history under Bush.

The dark clouds are already rolling away as the dawn of a new day- and a new era- brings a powerful sense of optimism and hope that just wasn’t there even a couple of weeks ago.

Good luck, Barack. You’ve got a hell of a job ahead of you. The world is rooting for you.


Gregor Robertson’s Unfare Fight

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

It was reported in the paper today that Vision Vancouver’s mayoral candidate, Gregor Robertson was caught riding on the Skytrain with an invalid ticket. He was fined $173.00.

This is a stunning hit for boy-wonder of the Vision Vancouver coalition. While it is not as serious as being convicted of drinking and driving which has dogged other political leaders from Metro Vancouver, it is still a major hit against him.

Robertson claims that he rides the skytrain once every six months. Well six months ago, the zone system was exactly the same as it was the day he got the fine. Vancouver, all by itself, is one zone. Travel anywhere beyond Vancouver’s boundaries necessarily means you are crossing into another zone.

Surely, someone who has been a sitting member of the provincial legislature, presumes to be mayor of the province’s largest city- and is an advocate of public transport- ought to know beforehand, or at least be saavy enough to become aquainted with, the zone boundaries and the cost to travel across one.

If this was a mistake, what will this say about his character? Certainly we should expect more of our mayor than this sort of sloppy self-governance. Let’s just hope it was an honest mistake- a sort of slip-up never to be repeated. Ever.

But to make things worse for Robertson, he claims that after receiving the ticket for travelling in the wrong zone with a one zone ticket, he got off the train to buy a zone-upgrade at the next station. Too little, too late, Gregor. The damage has already been done. (After you get a parking ticket, do you then plug the meter? Of course not!)

Then, in an act of political spin that could pull dust bunnies out from under the bed, he postures that he’s going to make a fuss about how the fine unreasonably fits the crime: a $173.00 ticket is way out of proportion to the $1.25 difference between a one-zone ticket and a two-zone ticket.

Is the fine too much? Perhaps. But posture all you want, Gregor. The fine is still $173.00. The fine would have been zero, zilch, nada, had you actually paid for a two-zone ticket in the first place.

Yet Gregor Robertson’s inter-zonal plight highlights a sort of fare evasion that is almost impossible to detect without directly interfering with travellers on the bus, skytrain and seabus. It is so pervasive that one might even go so far as to say unofficially that it is the norm.

People carrying one-zone monthly passes and transfers and travelling in another zone is wide-spread throughout the system. As a transit operator, I see it all the time. It speaks to the unfairness of our zone system.

Why do we still use the archaic zone system anyway? After all, why should someone who lives at Joyce and Kingsway pay $3.75 to go shopping at Metrotown only nine bus-stops away but in Burnaby on the other side of a zone boundary, while pay only $2.50 to go to completely across the city to UBC, a considerably farther distance?

Robertson should take responsibility for his action, inadvertent or otherwise, instead of trying to cover for the fact that he was unfortunate enough to get caught.

But if he prefers not to take responsibility, he should raise the question that would help those who don’t intend to cheat the system, to avoid making the same mistake he claims to have made and make transit use fairer at the same time…

When will electronic payment, a technology that allows for payment in real-time based on actual distance travelled, replace the outdated and unfair zone system we currently have?