I don't know what it says about a country when its most credible television news program appears on The Comedy Channel.
That of course would be the United States, and 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'.
A few days ago, he and his guest were talking about the current financial crisis, and how the government was giving billions of dollars in cash to various corporations to stimulate the economy. Stewart or the guest, I can't remember which, suggested that instead of giving the money to the banks so they could lend it to citizens so they could pay off their mortgages, why not just give the money directly to the people and let THEM spend it?
Presto - the mortgage crisis is resolved, people own their homes, all debt is cancelled, the economy can begin to roll again.
Now this is not the sort of thing that the Tall Foreheads in think tanks, governments and universities would ever think of. Certainly, the CEOs of banks and financial institutions would never come up with it, because how could they skim their vigorish off the top to meet their genuine need to pay multi-million dollar bonuses to the idiots who got us all into this mess in the first place?
But it just seems like it might make sense.
This sort of unusual thinking can also be found in a report prepared by one Patrick Condon, a senior researcher at the University of British Columbia's Design Centre for Sustainability concerning a planned 12 kilometre subway line to connect UBC to downtown Vancouver.
This is the sort of tree-hugging public works project that sends the David Suzukis of the world into paroxysms of joy, whisking as it would teeming thousands of UBC students to their Ivory Towers in green-tinged comfort, and removing all those cars from the roadways.
But Professor Condon has calculated that if they invested the $2.8 billion-with-a-b projected cost in a fund which could earn six percent interest (even in today's climate that shouldn't be that difficult) it would generate about $170 million, per year, sufficient to give every UBC student a brand-new Toyota Prius hybrid car. Every year. For the rest of all time.
Holy methane-generating cow. Write that down in your Ledger, Heath.
The students could then go not only where the subway line went, but anywhere they wanted.
And not only when the subway line ran, but whenever they wanted.
Transportation flexibility, more cheaply, and in a more environmental friendly manner.
Isn't that what we all want for our future?
I don't know that a Prius Hybrid would necessarily be the best solution. Among other things - and thinking again along these same unconventional lines - the extra money you spend on a hybrid over a conventional but still fuel-efficient car would surely generate better economic (to you) and environmental (to you and the rest of us) returns if you stuffed it (metaphorically) into your attic as extra insulation.
The Condon report does however reiterate something former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca pointed out to a US Senator who was balking at supporting a loan to the car maker because the senator preferred to spend the cash on a 'mass transit' system.
Iaccoca's response: "What the hell do you think the Chrysler Corporation is??"