Letters to Rob Ford: How to cut a deficit in 22 seconds

In City, Criticism, Letters to Rob Ford, Personal on August 7, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Dear Mayor Ford,

Have you ever used ESPN’s trade machine? It’s a simulation that allows everyday people like you and me make the personnel and financial decisions that NBA General Managers do. I found a similar simulation that allows me to be the mayor!

This awesome interactive simulation, available on the Toronto Star’s website is not nearly as hard as the NBA Trade Machine. The NBA has an extremely complicated set of salary cap rules for its teams, and in order for a trade to go through, the value leaving must approximate the value coming in on each trade. You have to balance the numbers and make the trade work for both teams. Boring.

The Star’s simulation is so much more fun. Finally, people can see how easy it is to cut services in order to cut the deficit. You just click the stuff you want to cut and it keeps a running total of the remaining deficit. Now, I realize you’re trying to do this as fast as you can, but I can get the deficit down from $774 million to under $100 million in about 22 seconds flat.

The trick to the game is finding the big money. The plan to cut police services is $195 million. Don’t fall for the $0.10 hike in TTC fares, go for the full $0.25 rise – it’s worth $60 million. You see that section called City Surplus and Revenue – click everything there, that’s another $254 gone. At this point I’ve already eliminated $500 million of our $774 million deficit and I haven’t even broke a sweat.

At this point, people probably get stuck and start to think about cutting stuff like Public Works, Planning & Growth and Government Management. Classic mistake. There’s really not that much money to save in those areas. For example, when KPMG suggests that we might want to eliminate a public art program that saves us $95,000, it’s really not worth the click.

Think big. Cut funding to a variety of cultural and heritage services, $17 mill. Child care, daycare, seniors homes gives us another $80 mill. Closing library branches, grants for energy saving projects, and cutting TTC bus services saves another $83 mill and voila, we’ve got the deficit down under $100 million.

Toronto’s strong economy combined with these service cuts means you can keep the single biggest promise responsible for your election. You can cut property taxes. Can you say re-elected?!

You’re welcome.

Umar Saeed of Trinity-Spadina

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