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Maxed Out

The stressful days of Christmas

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On stress tests - the kinds that ask, "Have you experienced any of the following in the last year?" - there are two bullets none of us can dodge: birthdays and Christmas. It seems birthdays and Christmas are considered pretty stressful events by scientists who study stress and its triggers.

In Whistler, one might add open houses/public presentations/meaningless dog and pony shows to "explain" - a local colloquialism for obfuscate - exactly why it is we have a new and unique, if numbingly annual, Budget Crisis. This year's is transit. Gee. Imagine that. We're forced to build an industrial eyesore on reclaimed wetland at twice the price of anything we actually need so we can put on a meaningless show of greenwash for the Olympics, only to shockingly discover we have a hole in our municipal budget that can be seen from space.

Of course, we wouldn't have had a multi-million dollar overhang in transit if only people who had a choice to (a) avoid the village all together or (b) park for free, had willingly paid to park on the asphalt playing fields. But then, people are hesitant to go where there is no sign of life. Score another one for human nature.

It's beginning to look like the only solution to our budget woes is to scrap transit entirely, kill pay parking and make everyone drive their cars everywhere. Oh I can hear you bleeding hearts now. "What about the people who don't have cars?" Let 'em hitchhike.

I realize some of you may think of this as a retrograde step in the overall evolution of a greenish community, possibly even unsustainable. But it makes at least as much sense as being completely unwilling to even consider doing what so many other municipalities around the world have done - freeze or even, horrors, roll back salaries and/or reduce staff.

As an enlightened alternative, we can simply reduce or eliminate popular services enjoyed by, well, everyone who lives here. Excuse me? We've already done that. Really? Sorry, I've been out of town.

But you know what? I don't care. There's nothing I can do about it. There's nothing you can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it... at least until next November. Besides, Christmas is coming and I'm saving up my stress-fighting corpuscles for that.

At some level, all of us long for a simpler, old-timey, less stressful Christmas. You know, the ones painted by Currier and Ives or Cornelius Krieghoff. Lace up our skates, drink something rummy, roast a chestnut on an open fire and exchange small, tasteful gifts with family.

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