George Carlin once pointed out that when you look at how stupid the average person is, always remember that half the people in the world are stupider than that.
George, bless his soul, would be having a field day if he were still alive today.
The Republican nomination process in the U.S. long ago devolved into a gong show before Mitt Romney, a fellow who likes to transport his faithful dog on the roof rack of the family station wagon, separated himself from a pack of contenders that could not keep their feet out of their mouths for more than three days at a stretch.
Throw in the Occupy Everything movement, the inane conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's birth certificate and, of course, Vietnam 2.0: Afghanistan and George would have enough material to open another act on the Vegas strip.
Not that the Canadian health-care system has come up with a vaccine to cure the citizens of this country from random acts of stupidity.
Need evidence? How about the jaw-dropping scene at Vancouver City Hall Tuesday where the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users - junkies are organized now? - occupied council chambers to protest a proposed housing development that would - gasp - inconvenience the existing illegal drug trade.
The group claims that construction would disrupt the established underground drug market and lead to a turf war among dealers. (Note to mayor and council: do these drug dealers have city-issued business or vending permits?)
There were about 100 demonstrators present for the latest stop on B.C.'s never-ending protest schedule. Getting a borderline triple-digit turnout represented a victory of sorts for organizers, who lost much of their expected crowd when all the marijuana users wandered off in search of munchies.
But the assembled heroin hypes and meth heads were enough to carry the day and together they created enough of a scene to attract the media attention the group secretly craves but publicly loathes.
What fresh hell is this? Or, more to the point, what's next? Will bylaw enforcement officers be writing tickets for noise violations to homeowners who use lawn mowers, thus disturbing the sleep of the denizens of the crack house down the street?
Will pet owners who clean up their dog's poop be fined because the feces removal robs the ecosystem of vital nutrients? Or maybe homeless people will demand that condo developments include a certain percentage of suites dedicated to low-income accommodations?
Oh wait, we already have conceded that last absurdity. Why spend your life working to get ahead and maybe one day purchase a townhouse with a waterfront view? Just drop out of school, pick up a drug habit and collect welfare while waiting for the government to provide the prime real estate for you. It's the cushiest gig this side of the backbenches of the House of Commons.
Of course, the concept of catering to the needs of displaced drug dealers is actually advanced thinking compared to the mental gymnastics that take place in the offices of TransLink.
The SkyTrain system has been operating for more than 25 years now and TransLink is taking the radical step of installing turnstiles to ensure, wait for it, that people who ride the elevated rails actually pay for tickets.
It seems that the TransLink folks have finally figured out that by installing mechanical gates to regulate access, SkyTrain might actually require riders to buy tickets to use the system.
No, it's true. The transit big wigs tried several other approaches over the years.
First they just had wide open doors and stairwells with no checkpoints to guide riders onto the trains. Then, when it was discovered that some riders were just walking through the doors without buying tickets, the transit suits got tough.
They came up with a law and order approach complete with armed transit cops patrolling the stations and cars. When they found riders without valid tickets, the Sky-Narcs hit the miscreants with the full weight of their authority by issuing citations and fines that were legally unenforceable.
When the losses due to non-paying ridership continued to mount, the transit cops instituted a quota system requiring officers to write a minimum of eight unenforceable tickets each shift.
And despite all these draconian measures, TransLink claims they still lose upward of $7 million per year due to the fare cheaters. (How do they know it's this much? Is there a special box to fill out on your income tax return declaring how much you saved by cheating transit? The number would appear to be arbitrary at best).
So to fix the problem once and for all, TransLink is installing turnstiles at all of the SkyTrain stations.
Except two. Main Street and MetroTown stations - two of the busiest stops on the system - will not get the turnstiles because it will be too expensive to renovate the structures to accommodate the gadgets.
And the cost of these new turnstiles? $100 million. Bet you never thought those mechanical posts that stab you in the groin every time you go into Canadian Tire were cutting-edge, multimillion dollar crowd control technology.
Sorry George, but I fear your stupid people estimates were a tad low.
Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com
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