Name-changes are a baffling waste of public resources

Facebook doesn’t appear among my daily list of major news outlets so when I read that MP Nathan Cullen had conducted a poll among his 26,000 Facebook followers to gauge their reaction to a proposed riding name change from Skeena-Bulkley Valley to Skeena-Pacific Northwest, it was news to me. Only 240 readers responded. This low count I would chalk up principally to typical lackadaisical reaction to anything political, and followers who are more names than committed supporters.

The need to change names of everything from highways to cities to sports teams to schools and more baffles me. Renaming some edifice or mountain does nothing to improve the lives of those in less than optimum circumstances. The process takes up precious legislative time when more productive uses would be improving the health and safety of kids in foster care; educating more doctors so one province doesn’t rob another; hiring more RCMP officers; reducing our homeless numbers; increasing staffing levels in government offices so constituents could actually get help with problems instead of having their calls go unanswered.

The rampant problem of unanswered government phones recalls Yogi Bear saying about a popular restaurant,”It’s so busy, nobody goes there any more.”

If something has worked well for a long time, why upgrade it, especially if the newer version fails to work as well? Last week I walked from store to store looking for replacements for two low tech kitchen items. My first quarry was flat wooden toothpicks. All I could find were round, pointy-ended wooden toothpicks sharp as porcupine quills, the sort restaurants supply to customers at the cash register two at a time sealed in plastic. Or plastic models in various colours and flavours. Finally at the Dollar Store I found flat wooden toothpicks, 650 to a box, $1 per box.

My second search was for an inexpensive, basic can opener, the kind with a hook on the end of one handle perfect for lifting the sealed lid from a canning jar. That, too, proved hard to find. Newer can openers have clunky turning grips, slip off the can, and range up to about $15.

I snooped through bin after bin of discarded bottle openers at both the Salvation Army and Hospital Auxiliary thrift stores. I found many, many garlic presses, apparently a kitchen aid not as popular as an ordinary knife. What makes this tool a disappointment? How often had I fantasized about cooking with a garlic press?

I pawed through cork screws, and gadgets whose intended purpose I couldn’t name. My searches reminded me of the many unnecessary, even useless items we buy and bring home soon to relegate to some out-of-the-way corner under the sink.

At Wholesale Club I found a facsimile of the cheap 25-year-old opener that had lost its hinge opening a can of Heinz baked beans. I had made a three-quarter inch opening in the can before the hinge clanked on the floor. I headed into my shop for a screw driver to use as a pry, but found instead a pair of tin snips. With the snips I butchered the lid until I could scoop out the beans.

The Wholesale Club’s model cost only $1.75 and as Major Winchester of “Mash” was wont to say about his surgical skills, it does only one thing, but does it well.

Next week I’ll continue looking for Chapstick, my lip balm of choice since age 10 when I pedalled my bike on hot, windy days. If I can’t find it at Save-On, Dollarama, or People’s Pharmacy, I’ll order a six-pack from Amazon.com.

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