Sometimes you’ve got to feel for Stephen Harper. Consider his changing-the-national-anthem fiasco: the guy finally takes a shot at appealing to women and what does he get? Glares, insults and mockery. It’s his high school Sadie Hawkins dance all over again.
But Harper brought it on himself. The Prime Minister set aside two long months to “recalibrate” his agenda and still he failed to embrace the word that would ignite his electoral prospects—the one word that would rally the people of Canada to his cause and assure him of the majority he so desperately seeks.
Do the math, people. For years now, the PM has been mired in the mid-30s in polls. But political scientists unanimously agree that pledging to commit our nation’s resources to the development of a National Jetpack Program would win the votes of 100 per cent of Canadian men who are me.
When I was a boy, I was told there would be jetpacks. Society promised me jetpacks. Since then, all sorts of futuristic predictions have come true: genetic engineering, virtual reality, sharks with laser beams on their heads (Bill Gates’s bathtub only). Yet here we are in 2010 and I still have to walk to the bathroom. And they have the nerve to call that other era the Dark Ages.
Now I’m in my forties and jetpacks are still in their infancy. There’s a New Zealand company that just started selling a “dual propeller flying machine” capable of hitting 100 km per hour and travelling to an altitude of 8,000 feet. Sounds promising, but the device is huge and bulky. Worse, it can make it only 50 km on a tank of fuel, which is a big problem until we all implant into our chests one of those Iron Man power devices, like Robert Downey Jr. Where’s my hacksaw?
The other issue with the New Zealand jetpack, made by the Martin Aircraft Company, is its cost: US$100,000 per unit. Now personally, if I had US$100,001 to my name, I would happily spend 100,000 of them on a jetpack. (I’d need the remaining dollar as legal retainer for my inevitable divorce.) But I’m willing to accept that a small percentage of Canadians would be unwilling to pay that much for a jetpack. This is where Stephen Harper comes in.
The Prime Minister needs to invest a certain amount of our annual budget—for example, all of it—in developing a jetpack that is lighter and cheaper and comes in cherry red. Sure, we’ll have to go a few years without luxuries like hospitals, electricity and human kindness. Sure, there are bound to be some truly horrific accidents during prototype flights, for which we shall honour the bravery of the test pilots chosen at random from Harper’s cabinet. And sure, once jetpacks arrive, no one will walk ever again—we’ll all be 500 lb., like in Wall-E and the U.S. Midwest.
But that’s a small price to pay when you consider the jetpack isn’t just a convenient mode of transportation—it is the solution to every single one of life’s problems. Depressed? Not after you get your jetpack. Free from physical deformity? Not after you smash your jetpack. Still stuck at the helm of a minority government after four long years of forcing a smile? Jetpack!
I firmly believe our investment in jetpack technology will pay off big-time. Steve Jobs will buy the design from us, name it the iPack, put a lousy camera in it and we’ll all be rich. We’ll have so much money that we’ll be able to bring all the athletes back to Vancouver and show them a closing ceremonies that doesn’t bite the big one. Right after we win gold in the jetpack slalom.
Despite my enthusiasm, I am not naive about jetpacks. I know there are a number of difficult public policy questions that still need to be addressed.
Policy question No. 1: should we name our jetpacks? It’s a tough call. We generally don’t name our cars but we do name our boats. I’m going to say yes, we should name our jetpacks. Dibs on Hellraiser.
Policy question No. 2: would a proliferation of jetpacks intensify the process of global warming? Yep. But here’s the thing: nobody will give a damn. Rattlesnakes could migrate north to thrive on the tropical Arctic tundra and the Bermuda-shorted Inuit would be like, “Check this out—I put some flame decals on the side of my jetpack.” And David Suzuki and Al Gore would high-five and agree that’s awesome. Why? Because it is awesome.
Policy question No. 3: jetpacks are amazing! That’s not really a question, but I agree.
At this point, you’re probably wondering if there is any downside—any downside at all—to a world with jetpacks. The answer is no. Will some people in jetpacks die in head-on collisions with other people in jetpacks? Frequently. But they’ll be remembered for having died in a jetpack accident. There is no more awesome way to go.