Why do people care so much about the wrapper and not the contents?

It’s election time in my little town. And looney time on FaceBook.

We have less than 5000 people, no partisan political machinery, and the city bank account isn’t bursting with cash to attract fat cats. But this year saw the fruition of a long term infrastructure project – residential water meters. And that became such a controversial thing that it became a distraction for city council.

For 15 years there’s been forward motion towards a future that has these things. For the two previous years they had spoken openly about them, mentioned them in public meetings and documents. Then last February somebody out there in the public noticed they were talking about water meters this year. And they began talking to anyone that would listen. And it all kind of mushroomed from there. People who never came out to city council all of a sudden had to come to every meeting. And of course because they never came before they had weird ideas about how it worked …

All kinds of issues were brought into the discussion.

Water is a ‘God Given Right’ was a common refrain. When I ask people to leave God out of the discussion I get accused of attacking their religion.

Water shouldn’t have a price they cry. You can’t legally sell water that way in the province of British Columbia. Sure you can bottle it up and sell it that way but you can’t pump it out of the ground and sell it by the cubic meter. Not until the province changes the law. But all the infrastructure that it takes to get that water out of the ground and into your house does have a price. And maintaining it has a price.

The population already pays a charge for water, another for sewer and yet another for garbage. One of the reasons for the water meters is so that those who use more water pay more for the infrastructure. But even though some people are told that it doesn’t seem to sink in. Or they don’t appear to believe it. Nope, they can’t seem to get off the idea that the city is going to be putting a price on the actual water.

These meters are going to be digital, wireless communicating, meters. Meaning by radio.
This collection of features seem to get absorbed by people like this:

It’s  a digital electronic meter. A computer meter. A Smart meter! It communicates using radio. It’s a wireless meter. That means RF! And EMF! Bad news for people with EHF. Cancer around the corner.

In this province there has been a lot of vocal push back against so-called Smart Electrical meters. That fight has generated a lot of material, much of it a bunch of woo promoted by scare mongering agents of fear.

Well I see an awful lot of people here conflating these water meters with those electrical meters. When Saskatchewan Power decided to replace all the new ‘smart’ electrical meters they had already installed due to a rash of post replacement fires this news was latched onto by the anti-water meter crowd and waved in the faces of everyone to show that there are problems and someone somewhere is doing something about it. Um, not quite: They aren’t the same thing AT ALL! Electrical meters not water meters. If your electrical meter overloads it might catch fire, ok. What happens if your water meter sees too much water? If might spring a leak but it won’t burn your house down.

Then there’s the RF is Bad crowd. Making wild ‘scientific’ claims while they have limited knowledge of the science they quote. Or little to no understanding of the reality behind the mathematics and statistics they throw at you. These people expect small government to eschew the guidelines of the federal government health ministry and adopt the advice and guidelines of their favourite anti-RF groups instead. And while they are there they espouse these ideas but later on you see some of them talking on their cell phones.

Then the city decided that the most economical way to do this was to put the meters inside peoples houses, for free … unless they don’t want them in there. In which case they get them in a pit out in the yard and have to split the cost with the city. Well many people have taken to voicing various ideas about how to prevent or stop this. They cite rights when they don’t have that right. They voice worries that their house insurance will become voided – not so. On and on they do not end.

The latest interesting twist goes like this: It now comes to light that one of the candidates for Mayor who has publicly lambasted the city for this program was one of the 3 companies bidding on the contract to do the meter installation.

I was told this early in the morning and had it confirmed by mid afternoon. Multiple people confirmed this. I posted about it on the local election related Facebook group. A link to the city web page and a verbatim extract. And ended up with the question who owns this third named company? (the one with the same name as this candidate) Then I posted that the neither phone was working  at the two company listings I found online with different phone numbers. Then I posted a video of my phone conversation with the candidate where I asked and he answered. Affirmatively and unabashedly.

I posted all of that and for the next few hours the topic of conversation was not the candidate, it was me and my way of releasing the information. Information which up until today was an open secret. This candidate is well entrenched with the anti-water-meter crowd but as far as anyone knows this little bit of knowledge was unknown. But I’m the topic for mentioning it …?

It goes along with the rest of the limited discussion happening. Instead of real issues people want to divert into things that are more character oriented. Bring up controversial aspects that everyone knows about but are always good for a bit of character assassination. One denizen of this area uses a pseudonym and does not let on their gender. Their posts are so obvious in their outrageous biases that a friend thinks they are an agent provocateur. Which I also suspect but for whom I do not know.

And the ones that bleat the most I want to award a special award to: Parrot Of Doom. Because that’s what they are, people who Parrot things that they read (but do not understand) that are all about Doom and gloom. Their missives are P.O.D. casts.

What about the real issues? Why care so much about the BS?

I see every council meeting. And who comes to watch and listen. Almost no one. And how many people watch online. Hardly any. Yet when they want to complain they almost always seem to think they know how it all works. But most of the time it’s clear they do not. But they get adamant that council must listen and do something. Often they find out it is nothing that this level of government can do anything about. If they’d been paying attention they would know that but apparently everything else is more important … until it’s not. Then whatever it is they are upset about is more important than anything else council might have going on. Ok, most aren’t that bad – just the strident ones.

And then there’s the guy whose favourite hobby horse is Agenda 21 and the UN’s plan for world domination. And how every one and every organization has to made to beware … oi!


About xamble

Most things I do involve computers. Nowadays that sounds stupid to hear because everyone uses computers. Except I was saying that before the IBM PC came on the scene. (hint: my first programs were entered on punch cards in an IBM-29) Now I mostly use them. Mostly to provide a community service in my small town. Because I could when it was asked and still can. And I'm a wannabe writer. Various books in various states of incompleteness. A few short stories. Might do more of that.
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