Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toll Culture

Tolls encourage less damaging behaviours
while we take responsibility for our actions!
The following are excerpts from a recent article published by Latham Hunter.
She is a writer and professor of cultural studies and communications;
her work has been published in journals, anthologies and print news
for over twenty years.

John Tory's decision in favour of tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway makes sense to me. Across the pond in London, traffic tolls introduced in 2003 have reduced the number of vehicles on the road by 70,000 every day. But beyond their effectiveness in shaping social behavour, tolls are so very grown-up about things, aren't they? What can I's cheaper and faster than transit! 905ers would have to encounter that moment of adult reckoning when it comes time to pay their toll. “Yes, toll booth...I know I'm making the decision to create pollution and gridlock. I will take responsibility by paying your fee, which will hopefully pay for improved transit...and therefore act as my penance.” The word 'toll' suggests so much more choice than 'tax'.

We've already accepted, essentially, a plastic bag toll at grocery stores. Smokers pay extra taxes on cigarettes because they choose to keep's like a 'toll' (although it's not, incidentally, enough to pay for the treatment of smoking-related illnesses.)

People who live in rural areas pay extra for their electricity. Essentially, I pay a 'toll' to turn my lights in the city! In each example, we pay extra to somehow try and mitigate the consequences of our actions...and take responsibility. This is pretty radical, I know, that it makes so much sense that I think it should be freely and enthusiastically applied throughout our culture.

Consider, for example, bottled water. Not only do corporations like Nestle's suck millions of litres of fresh water from our communities' lakes and aquifers for pittance...they then sell it back to us with the lie that that it's somehow “superior to tap water” and its municipalities that have to deal with the costs of recycling the packaging for something that doesn't even need to be packaged in the first place!
Everyone, everywhere has to deal with the consequences
of the pollution created by making recycling and trashing plastic bottles!
Every week, I see people piling cases and cases of the stuff into their carts at Cosco.
We need a steep toll on bottled water!

We need that moment of reckoning when people must stop and ask themselves, “Is this worth the cost?” And not only in the monetary sense, either. As my friend, Anne, pointed out, “There are steep costs associated with EVERY BOTTLED BEVERAGE!” Juice, soda and sweet fancy coffees create mountains of packaging waste! They're full of sugar and major contributors to obesity...fatty liver disease...type-2-diabetes...which cost the Ontario health care system billions every year.

But wait: THERE'S MORE! New research has linked certain kinds of meat with an increased risk of cancer,,,and tracked just how much pollution the livestock industry creates! And we KNOW that Fast Food creates one-fifth of our garbage and a diet high in fast food leads to higher rates of disease!
We're killing ourselves and the Planet!
We are draining the public coffers trying to treat /and or amend people's bad decisions
and corporations' complete lack of moral and social responsibility!

Tolls offer the genius of a system in which we not only encourage less damaging behaviours and more consciousness about the public consequences of our actions...but we take responsibility for our actions!
We need a vast system of 'tolls' ...tolls so numerous that black markets wouldn't even be feasible!
We need tolls that persistently give us the chance to do better!

* * * * * *
Tolls are considered as a 'tax, duty or tribute' for services rendered or use of specific facilities, It seems in Life that we humans exact our own 'tolls' to achieve illustrated by the following two incidents submitted to me by Tom, a faithful reader.

This Husband Wishes He Had Never Asked!
An old man asks his wife: “Martha, soon we will be married 50 years...and there's something I have to know. In all these 50 years have you ever been unfaithful to me?” Matha replied, “Well, Henry, I have to be honest with you. Yes...I've been unfaithful to you 3 times during these 50 years, but always for a good reason.” Henry was obviously hurt by his wife's confession, but said, “I never suspected. Can you tell me what you mean for 'good reasons'?”

Martha said, “The first time was shortly after we were married...and we were about to lose our little house because we couldn't pay the mortgage. Do you remember that one evening, I went to see the banker...and the next day he notified you that the loan would be extended?” Henry recalled the visit to the banker and said, “I can forgive you for saved our home, but what about the second time?”

Martha asked, “And do you remember when you were so sick, but we didn't have the money to pay for the heart surgery you needed? Well, I went to see your doctor one night and, if you recall, he performed the surgery at no charge.” Henry recalled the situation and stated, “You did it to save my life, so of course, I can forgive you for that! Now tell me about the third time.”

Alright,” Martha said, “Do you remember when you ran for President of your golf club...and you needed 73 more votes?” Henry fainted!

A Helping Hand Through Customs
A distinguished young woman on a flight from Switzerland asked the priest seated beside her, “Father, may I ask a favour?” Looking at her, he replied, “Of course. What may I do for you?”

Well, I bought an expensive electronic hair dryer that is well over the customs' limits...and I'm afraid they'll confiscate it. Is there any way you could carry it through customs for me? Under your robes, perhaps?” The young priest replied, “I would love to help you, Dear, but I must warn you...I will not lie.” She replied, “With your honest face, Father, no one will question you.”

When they got to customs, she let the priest go ahead of her. The official asked, “Father, do you have anything to declare?” The priest replied, “From the top of my head, down to my waist, I have nothing to declare.” The official, considering this answer strange, asked, “And what do you have to declare from your waist to the floor?” Replying, the priest stated, “I have a marvelous little instrument designed to be used on a woman...but which is, to date, unused.” Roaring with laughter, the official said, “Go Ahead, Father. Next!”

Wayne Gretzky stated: Procrastination is one of the most common
and deadliest of diseases...and its 'toll' on success and happiness is heavy.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...January 8, 2017

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