In Search of the Northwest Budget

By S.D. Plissken | September 11, 2020

In 1845 Sir John Franklin, with two ships and 129 men, went in search of the fabled “Northwest Passage” between Baffin Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He and his men disappeared into the Canadian Arctic and were never seen again.

We know now that their ships became entrapped in the ice of the Canadian Arctic over a series of unusually cold winters. Researchers theorize that, apart from the appalling and deadly Arctic conditions, the expedition’s food and water supplies were contaminated with poisonous lead solder. That would have both sickened them and impaired their cognitive function. Lord Franklin died. Part of the crew descended into cannibalism.

Survivors tried to escape overland. They loaded a heavy ship’s boat with a lot of useless paraphernalia, including a writing desk, silk handkerchiefs, scented soap, sponges, slippers, hair combs, and many books. That seemed to them to be a good idea. It can only be supposed that these unfortunates were half-crazed due to lead poisoning. One by one they died while trying to drag this useless burden across the Canadian tundra towards settlements lying hundreds of frozen miles to their south.

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) is seeking a budgetary passage through the economic recession triggered by the Covid-19 shutdown. What do they propose that we drag across this hostile environment to a sustainable place?

Most of the departmental presentations so far have led off with pay raises. Yes, we’ll need them, make sure that pay raises get stowed in the boat. That would be only prudential management. They are essential.

Put them under the writing desk, between the silk handkerchiefs, slippers, scented soap, and books.


Dover, Connie. (2015, August 22). Lord Franklin. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2020, September 11). Franklin’s Lost Expedition. Retrieved from

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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