Brother, can you spare a dime?

Carin sent me an e-mail this morning asking that I write my state legislators and tell them that we should keep the parks open.  The Governator has proposed shutting most of them down to keep California finances from falling into the Pacific.

Now I like trees as much as the next guy.  But I have so many requests to contact my legislators that I don’t know where to start.  Food for the home-bound, health care for the indigent, school class sizes smaller than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, help for single mothers with a dozen or more kids housed at Motel Six, prison guards who won’t be able to spend their normal two weeks on the French Riviera, and my own local library that may have to burn its books.  What’s a guy to do?

Budget cuts are rampant.  The Democrats, held hostage by minority Republicans who are the beneficiaries of the super-majority requirement bestowed on them by us, are catatonic and incapable of doing anything but closing down the state.

As the NY Times reported

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has been uncharacteristically silent on most of the cuts, most likely because lawmakers know that tax increases are not politically palatable, that huge cuts in some form are in the offing no matter what, and that any program they wish to spare will quite likely have advocates among their ranks.

Letters to the editor abound.  “About time someone took an axe to the state budget.  The voters have spoken.  No tax increase.  Cut out the waste.  A pox on their houses.”  Many cite the evidence of the overwhelming defeat of the recent unintelligible ballot propositions as clear evidence that tax increases are unacceptable.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Less than a third of California registered voters participated in the election.  Last week American Idol polled about 100 million votes.  I’m proud to say that I voted in the election.  I’m also proud to say I’ve never seen American Idol.

I voted against all of the propositions, even the one that passed.  The one that punishes the legislature if we run a deficit.  I’m not sure why the legislature should be punished.  We’re the ones who’ve hamstrung them.  Maybe we should get a pay cut too.

I thought a long time about the propositions.  Maybe ten minutes which, at my age, is a significant commitment.  I realized that passage would be a band-aid on the real problem only to be followed by more ballot propositions.  And we would continue our role as the state’s budget experts and chief financial planners.  A dubious honor, the silliness of which is supported by any discussion overheard at Ojai Coffee Roasting.

No, I voted against the propositions in the hope that the Rapture would begin.  A wholesale slaughter.  The coming of the Messiah.  A cataclysmic event that would move the electorate.  An event so overwhelming and distasteful that we would admit to our wickedness.  And beg for change.  Beg that we change the way this state is run.  Beg that the legislature take over from us, the incompetent.  Beg that, unless we are trampling on individual rights, that a majority of our legislature enact the law.

So, please don’t ask me to tell my elected representatives to keep the parks open.  Don’t ask me to make donations to keep the schools open.  Don’t ask me to take over the legitimate responsibilities of our elected representatives.  Do ask me to vote for a change to the way this state is run.  Do ask me to support legitimate public services by paying my fair share.

Meanwhile, brother, I can’t spare a dime.


2 Responses to “Brother, can you spare a dime?”

  1. 1 myrna cambianica June 3, 2009 at 6:22 am

    I agree with Fred’s statement: “Do ask me to support legitimate public service by paying my fair share.”

    Why has paying taxes become such a negative concept and when did “paying taxes” become a bad word? Just ask the Finns, rated some of the happiest people in the world, about why they do not mind paying taxes.

    Off with the superfluous state spending and taxes are not all a bad thing. Each of us must sacrifice a bit to support this state in which we live so happily. Pay reasonable taxes for our protections as police and fire fighters and for the things we enjoy as parks, open space, libraries, etc. Don’t keep asking me to support this continued borrowing with interest. The cost of this creative financing will only be passed on the next generation Yep,our kids and grandkids too.

    As long as the state continues to grow and needs monies for social services, infrastructure and the like … then there will be a need for an increased budget. Pretty hard for government to run with little or no tax. Close some of those loop holes for the big corporations and let them pay there fair share too.

    Thanks Fred!


  2. 2 Leigh June 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Fred:

    I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your posts on the Ojai Post very much and finally got my act together enough to wander over and check out your own universe.

    It’s proving to be an absolute delight meeting you virtually; hope that I can do so live one of these days!

    All the best,
    Leigh Melander

    (Oh, and PS: Happy Belated Birthday! And thanks so very,very much for pointing out that one is actually in the decade beyond that which we see…really pleased to know that I’m actually engaging in my fifth decade on the planet rather than my fourth. Gloom! Despair! But hey, the saggy bits are ten years older than I’d thought!)



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