A friend’s father once said that it takes only two items to solve a lot of problems. When something moves that shouldn’t, use duct tape. When something doesn’t move that should, use 10W-40 oil.

This amusing piece of folk wisdom, about repairing items that become too sticky or too slippery, sounds closer to Red Green than Ram Dass. Although my friend’s father didn’t intend the line as a philosophical principle, many problems in life come down to the tension between friction and play. Or if you prefer, between control and freedom.

With that in mind, here’s my list of a few items that call for either a stretch of duct tape or a dash of 10W-40 oil (there is a third option, but we’ll leave that for the end, with the reminder these are metaphors).

Duct Tape: The provincial government’s economic model. The working parts of this mess are looser than the clutch on a Motorhead tribute band tour bus. The projection of liquefied natural gas revenues decades into the future, along with Premier Christy Clark’s vaporous “prosperity fund,” is magical thinking worthy of Hogwarts. Voters have taken notice of the government’s failure to affix common sense to fiscal projections. So it may be too late for adhesives — figurative or otherwise — to save the Libs from an electoral freefall in May.

10W-40 Oil: Theatre fraudster Garth Drabinsky. The former Livent executive is going to court to fight a recommendation he be stripped of the Order of Canada. A little lubrication may be called for here. After the courts loosen Drabinsky’s nimble fingers, perhaps the Advisory Committee of the Order of Canada can move on to addressing Brian Mulroney’s death grip on the prize.

Duct tape: payday lenders. The business practice is outlawed in 15 U.S. states, yet it is legal in nine out of 10 provinces, with outlets multiplying across Canada like E. coli. Payday lenders prey on the most vulnerable, with over half of the Canadian users of these services earning an annual income of under $35,000. The claimed rates of 21 per cent interest actually translate into 546 percent annualized interest, analysts say. Are any more numbers required to justify taping these vulture capitalists to regulatory frameworks — or better yet, sticking eviction notices on doors of their outlets?

10W-40 oil: Dog leash laws in Metro Vancouver. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a dog owner. Close to my neighbourhood, hikers regularly get lost on wilderness trails worthy of the Brothers Grimm. Yet these trails are designated as on-leash only. It is an abiding principle in municipal politics that a vocal minority can wreck things for the majority. So when it comes to demanding grease, you need to out-squeak the squeaky wheels.

Duct tape: The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington State. Last week, Washington governor Jay Inslee announced that six of 177 underground tanks are leaking 150 to 300 gallons of radioactive waste a year into the ground, at one of the most contaminated areas on the planet. Between the time of Chernobyl and Fukushima, this decommissioned nuclear site became the radioactive plaything of entropy. It contains two-thirds of all of America’s high-level radioactive waste by volume, and cleanup funds are now threatened by federal budget cuts. For decades, Hanford was exempt from U.S. environmental controls as the premier maker of weapons-grade plutonium, an extremely carcinogenic element with a half-life of 80 million years. FUBAR doesn’t even begin to describe the current situation at this atomic Eye of Mordor, just south of the B.C. border.

Duct tape AND 10W-40 oil: NDP leader Adrian Dix. Opposition parties have a long tradition of pre-election slipperiness. They condemn the budgetary decisions of incumbents while keeping mum about their own economic plans. It’s understandable realpolitik but also underhanded representation, and the provincial NDP leader has been evading direct press questions with the skill of a semantic ninja. A little something is required to tie him down, and a little something to loosen his lips.

Sledgehammer: the locked gate at the former Coast Guard station in Kitsilano. When adhesives or lubrication won’t do the trick, this is the third option. In spite of over 300 emergency calls to the Coast Guard a year in the area, the federal enablers of disaster capitalism have sent a clear message that the lives of west coast boaters are as expendable as copper pennies.

The Vancouver Courier, Mar 1



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