01 September 2010

Throw money at it: provgov to study garbage

gus Sometimes it seems as if Gus Portokalos’ brother wound up running the Newfoundland and Labrador government.

While Gus wanted to put window cleaner on everything, Gus’ imaginary brother in the provincial government likes to throw money at it.

The most recent example is a fund set up with a research centre at Memorial University. There is now $300,000 available to probe garbage.

Apparently, there are “unique waste diversion challenges” in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

So now the fine folks at the province’s university can get up to $15,000 to study ways of “reducing the amount of waste created, reusing materials and products, recycling or reprocessing waste, recovering some useful benefit from waste, and disposing of waste that has no further economic or environmental benefit.”



And these sorts of thing, the sorts of thing they’ve been doing everywhere else for decades, are not only unknown to people in Newfoundland and Labrador but we must fund university-level research to crack the garbage code that apparently bedevils us.

Once the researchers produce answers to the refuse puzzle, the second pillar of the anti-trash strategy will cut in:  they will tell people about it. And maybe, once they’ve told people about it, those people might come up with suggestions to – in the words of the guy running the research centre -  “shape research questions, leading to new ideas which then encourage further research to achieve implementation.”

So they’ll think about something.  Then they’ll tell people what they thought about.  And then the people they told will come up with new things to think about.  So the people doing the thinking will go back and think some more about the stuff they’ve been told to think about.

And maybe at some point, after all this thinking and talking and thinking and talking, someone might be able to do something with the garbage.

The technical term for this approach is GIGO:  garbage in, garbage out.

People unused to the refined language of the government and the university will only look at the complete lack of action on waste reduction since 2003  and think “circle jerk”.

And they will be right.

This is the administration, after all,  that is now renowned for its inability to do stuff.

This is the administration that took almost four years to take the waste management strategy of their predecessors, photocopy it, move all the target dates back a decade and then announce it as their own, brand-new strategy.

Just in time for an election.

And now three years after that announcement, they toss money at a bunch of people to supposedly figure out what to do with garbage.

This is the same administration that gave a consultant some unspecified hunk of public money to spend 18 months studying ways of keeping young people in the province. The result of the cogitation was truly Earth-shattering in its inventiveness:

1.  Create jobs.

2.  Put services in major centres. Like maybe St. John’s, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook?

3.  Link education to the labour market.

4.  Build “an understanding of the benefits of immigration and diversity through public education, community dialogue and strengthened curriculums in the education system.”

Well, d’uh.

And it even came with a spelling mistake in the bit that talks about education.


There is no way that anyone could possibly invent this policy.  It is, after all, nothing more than a hideous self-parody of an administration that is obviously lacking any sense of direction.

Reductio ad argentum, indeed.

- srbp -