Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Senator from the State of California has it correct


"You know...when I was mayor of San Francisco I used to go out in the neighborhoods and I'd say, "Do you want more police?"

"And the answer would come back, loudly, "Yes."

"Do you want more firefighters?"

The answer would come back loudly, "Yes." "Do you want to pay for them?"

"And instantly, it was, "No," in a booming way.

Dear Citizens of the State of California,

I want to thank the 12.5% of the population for coming out on May 19th to vote on the ballot measures.  Yes, for those of you that are wondering, only 12.5% of the population came out to vote.  See, less than half of all Californians are registered to vote, and less than a quarter of those bothered to vote on May 19th.  Anyway, thanks for voting.

I also want to let you know that it wasn’t the ballot process or the ballot itself that created this problem.  Regardless of how the election results went, these cuts that are now coming were going to be implemented eventually, it was just a matter of how long in the future.  It was the indecisiveness of the citizens of California that made the crisis a reality, and now the economic conditions are going to force you to stop acting like your children.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, your choices are now going to have actual consequences.

First, let me say that I’m against raising taxes.  While I agree that citizens should pay for services they request from the state (police, fire, education, social welfare), I don’t agree that citizens should pay for services that are bloated and broken.  This state is full of services that are so immensely flawed that public opinion simply accepts that are state has become average and that this form of apathetic corruption is just accepted collateral damage.  The problem is that the collateral damage now impacts every crevice in society and now we can’t ignore it.  Simply running departments in this state more efficiently would probably save the state billions of dollars annually.  That might not even mean firing employees right and left, although there is plenty of evidence out there that says some employees are wasting tax payer dollars.  However, if airlines can save $40,000 a year by simply putting one less olive in a salad, why can’t the state do the little things to cut costs so the system not only saves money, but also does a better job at serving the citizens?  I’m still waiting for the statement from the Governor that says, “Every department head come to me with a clear audit, and do right now or you get slashed first”.  Jack O’Connell sends the message down the education chain (same will all departments) and every person starts to learn that “waste not efficiency” can save teacher jobs, motivate innovative learning, and actually increase teacher pay down the road because the money will exists to give teachers a raise.  Use one less ream of paper, add a dollar a month to the paycheck.  Sounds little, but it’s a start.  And if all the entities of the state were doing it, that pebble becomes a mushroom cloud, and the State of California returns to the position of being equal or better than most nations on the entire planet at serving its citizens.  Currently, we can hardly say that we are better than Wyoming at that task. 

Second, it is time that the wealthy pay a bigger share of the pie, although not through raising taxes.  Hey, I get it, you already pay a bigger fee to the state for services, and you play a significant role in making California one of the greatest economic players in the world, but now the citizens of California need you tighten your belts like the rest of us.  While not raising taxes, let’s close all those pretty loopholes that the wealthy take advantage of, or better yet, change the loopholes so that the corporate dollars go towards things that will benefit them in other ways in the future.  A win-win situation!  I can see it now.  Corporations get their incentives lowered unless they take those extra dollars and put them towards a program that can benefit the welfare of society.  And give corporations some serious flexibility in making those decisions.  It would be like corporate marketing and investment, but helping society.  How about Google or Apple saying, “I have this sum of cash that will go to government coffers, or I will pick five rural high schools that can increase their revenue if they can prove to be more efficient graduating prepared students for next generation jobs".  How awesome would that be!  Instead of paying the government, the companies take that money and use it as investing for their future success.  Or they could pay the government if they don’t want to take the energy to work with government entities.  But think of the possibilities!   

You might think that the listed items are utopian, but I ask for an alternative from the citizens of California, because right now you are sitting in a broken house that is falling down around your ears, and you are perfectly ok with it.  Sure you might be ranting and yelling, standing in front of and cursing out the supports of dwelling while they continue to splinter and crack, but are you picking up the hammer and nails and going to work?  Are you grabbing the tools and getting dirty, and using some extra energy for a task that looks daunting, but could be beautiful in the end?  Or do we sit in our easy chairs and groan while the building falls.

Californians, what say you?           

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