Free! What’s That?

An interesting question.  Can you have something free? Is free even possible?

Peterborough events include Musicfest, a summer long, twice a week music concert with no admission charge.  It has a varied and excellent lineup.  2014 saw acts from Emerson Drive to Barney Bentall and from Colin James to Tegan and Sarah.  In previous years huge crowds have seen Gordon Lightfoot, Carly Rae Jepson, and Glass Tiger.

Is it free.  Certainly it is for the attendees, but it is not free.  There are about 100 sponsors, several fund raising initiatives and volunteer help.  It is very costly, yet free.

So clearly, free is a relative idea.  Free does not mean without cost.  It means someone else pays.  Maybe you are paying but indirectly.  Through taxes possibly.

Governments in particular like you to believe that they are giving you things.  Some of it is good because the thing might be something that you could not afford to provide by yourself.  Roads and bridges, healthcare, national defence, and a justice system come to mind quickly.  Grouping resources to accomplish something is not free.

Somehow some people have lost the idea that there is no such thing as government money.  There is only the people’s money.

Each of us has a duty to help that money to be well spent.  Be critical of programs and methods when necessary.  Be wary of secrecy and stone walling.  Things that are good can be displayed with pride.  Evil hides.

Many governments have lost their way.  Some people in power have turned government to something to promote their personal well-being.  That is not what governments are for.  Governments exist for the well-being of the people.

It is fairly easy to tell which governments fall on which side of the line.  If it is about politics, it is about the people in the government.  If it is about governance, it is about the citizens and their needs.

Governance without politics is of course unworkable.  Politics is about power.  Ideally the power to carry out services that the people need.  Being against good ideas just to be against them is a failing tactic in the long run.  Punishing enemies and rewarding friends is fruitless.  Divisive and mindless cheer leading is not noble.

Good governments achieve goals with a minimum of politics.  Emphasizing politics is the key indicator of poor government.

Watch and learn.  Then vote based on what you see.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: 

One Comment on “Free! What’s That?

  1. It’s the same with our MPs. We’ve forgotten that they’re meant to be our mouthpieces in government, rather than sheep to herd along the party line.

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