By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
We know the score. Most of us can tell what’s going down in D.C.: polarized democracy! We have been watching and taking notes. Frankly, we’re fed up with all the lies and unfulfilled promises. It’s election time again, and many of us don’t feel motivated to go to the polls to vote for ineffective incumbents or for those wannabe candidates who won’t be able to change reality!
We saw the PBS Special about the Pentagon Papers this week that clearly showed there were no whistle-blowers in the capitol until Daniel Ellsberg went out on a limb. The game of trying to fool the people is still being played in D.C. and in Sacramento. Budgets aren’t balanced, savers are being raped as usual, and any political action to finger those responsible for the Great Recession are feeble and so far unproductive. Such action won’t keep those “too big to fail” from continuing to devise innovative practices to exploit the public. Did the Savings and Loan fiasco 20 years ago alter the mentality of the bankers and the big time gamblers in Wall Street?
Time Magazine’s lead story this week – well written by a knowledgeable journalist, Joe Klein – sheds light on what voters think about this nation’s floundering democracy. Klein admitted that his journey across America “exploded my personal Beltway Bubble.” Traveling 6,782 miles in 24 days, stopping in 12 states, and meeting with the people who live in America not in D.C., he found both Republicans and Democrats unhappy, disgusted, and frustrated by the “disgraceful behavior of the financial community and its debilitating effects on the American economy over the past 30 years.”
Where is the vision, the overview of history, the experience in politics and economics to lead America? In California two untried former business executives are vying for the top offices with no political experience. The present governor, someone else with zero political experience, made a serious attempt during his incumbency to alter the course of this overspending state. Anything he tried to do was either rejected by voters or frustrated by the Democrats in the legislature.
Meanwhile, costs of tuition in schools of advanced learning are escalating, salaries of the college administrators and professors inflating, prisons overloaded with convicts, death row inmates languishing in San Quentin, prison healthcare taken over by outsiders who are trying to improve a hopeless situation that needs a lot more money, and public pension programs looming as the next financial catastrophe thanks primarily to the Great Recession.
So, what are the issues on the table in California? Gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, and not executing vicious convicts. Nothing is being said about the inequity of Proposition 13 where those who own homes bought before 1978 pay a third of the property taxes that others pay who purchased homes after Prop 13 was approved! Nothing is being done about illegal immigrants. Nothing serious is being attempted to rein in the entitlements this state can’t afford any longer.
The people in California don’t want any increases in taxes, so the state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1st 2010 finally approved October 8th, supposedly doesn’t require more taxes, per the news release I read this morning. Nevertheless, all savvy voters expect increases in fees and fines.
In the front page analysis about the “approved budget,” there was no explanation for us dummies about how the $19 billion deficit vanished. An unapproved injection of more than $4 billion from the federal government was assumed. Nearly $2 billion of school and college expenses were to be deferred until July of the next fiscal year. The governor, via his line item veto, cut expenses by nearly $1 billion. And “$1.6 billion in cuts to employee pay and benefits” were to be part of the reduction in government’s expenses. How that is to be accomplished in the face of union resistance is a mystery.
Anyone with a primary school education can sum up those major items. They account for only $8.6 billion of the $19 billion deficit. No reconciliation was provided by the paper to show what happened to the missing $10.4 billion. That is not surprising because year after year the California legislature can’t approve a budget on time or balance the state’s books without borrowing from the future or from gamblers who buy risky California bonds.
Honesty is not a virtue commonly possessed by politicians and editors. Citizens know that, and many are disgusted with being treated as dummies. We can deal with the hard facts: the truth that we can’t win the war in Afghanistan, that any new immigration law will include “amnesty” for many illegal immigrants, and that the latest Medicare law is founded upon “rationing healthcare” which will be determined by doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies. Many doctors now can refuse to treat Medicare and Medical patients. That’s the simplest form of rationing!
No company I worked for began a year of business without a budget or a financial plan. Those employees, supervisors, managers, and executives who failed to produce quality work on schedule were fired. That isn’t easily done by any level of government when there are unions for public employees and elected officials who hold onto their jobs until the next election. Public schools, which many politicians contend are failing in providing a sound education for American students, have extremely difficult procedures for firing incompetent employees and teachers.
Why do we want our children better educated when they will be treated by businesses, lawyers, governments, and advertisers as dummies when they are adults? Give us the unvarnished truth. Most of us reconcile our check books every month. We can understand a simple analysis of where actual expenses are more or less than budgeted expenses. If some of us can’t do that, than our schools are not giving us (and our children) the tools we need to manage money and approve the actions of those “public servants” who try to do that at our expense!
It’s our money that governments are spending carelessly, and our future that they are ignoring by playing stupid games in trying to solve short term financial problems with obvious gimmicks.