December 11: “Train from Kansas City”, Neko Case (Shangri-Las)

This song doesn’t make sense without the two public services currently under attack in Canada: passenger rail and the mail. They’re being strangled off in the same way: starve them of necessary funding so service degrades and the public turns against the service, then move in and axe even more service, secure in the knowledge that this will be supported by those who already gave up on the service you made worse in the first place. Do it, if possible, after the House of Commons has risen so there will be no debate and little coverage. Extra points for splitting up urban and rural service levels, if possible, so that in the future any critics of cuts to services in the places where most Canadians live (that would be cities) can be made to sound like whiny elitists.

Make no mistake: the goal is to kill public services, not just reduce them. There was a plan to reduce mail service a few months ago — remember? Trial balloons were floated about reducing home delivery to three times a week. That’s a reduction. Spending money to build infrastructure so that home delivery can be treated as obsolete is not a reduction, it’s a transformation. The goal is to shrink the service until it is no longer useful enough to justify keeping at all, and nobody waves goodbye.

Well, you say, and I’ve read, I hardly get any mail these days anyway. I’m fully online. Well, bully for you. What is important, and will affect you in some way, at some time, is that the end goal of this is the replacement of a public service — free home mail delivery — by one that is not provided publicly — internet delivery.

And, you might say, my tax dollars could be better spent than subsidizing mail delivery or passenger rail service. Sure — except they won’t be. The goal is not to free up money to spend on other initiatives. The goal of our current federal government (imitated in remarkably clumsy form by the Ford administration) is to shrink the size of government overall.

Well, you might say, I don’t benefit from these things personally. And, we should all say back, that’s interesting, but that’s actually not how society works. My tax dollars subsidize your kids’ education; your tax dollars subsidize the three-times-a-week whistle stop some vision-impaired senior boards in Sinclair Mills, B.C.

Sounds like the train from Kansas City is in trouble, too.