Tuesday, May 21, 2013
While I wholeheartedly agree with all of councilmember McCarty's points, I have to cede that at the end of the day keeping the Kings in Sacramento and providing a modern venue for entertainment located close to the city's center is essential for the long-term growth and prosperity of the city. Is the city broke? Yes. Have we laid-off essential city workers? Yes. Are public services closing left and right? Yes. So, why then should we invest our money in this seemingly foolish manner? Sadly, it's because our hand was forced by the those ass-hat Maloofs. At the end of the day it's all about timing. At some point in the near future, within the next 5-10 years, the economy will have recovered, the city will have the revenue it needs for public workers and services, and most of the financial gripes we have been dealing with for the past 5 years will become the stuff of memories. These are all short-term problems in the big scheme of things. That said, if we were to lose the Kings we may not have another major-4 pro sports team in Sacramento for several decades. I'm a 31 year old Sacramento native who has been to 2 Kings games in his entire life and has never sat through a basketball game on T.V. (more of a football fan - go Niners!) - but I still see the immense value in having a pro basketball team here in my home city. As much as I hate having my hand forced in these difficult times, losing the Kings would have been traumatic for a city that has been hit hard by the recession. At what cost and risk? High on both accounts to be sure - but I believe history will be kind to the decision. Also, pretty excited about being able to ride the bike trail to the arena...assuming they will be adding a little extension.
There seems to be this assumption (amongst some social-minded thinkers) that everything will fall apart if the Government stops spending. I disagree, but I can certainly understand how such assumptions are formed. Truth be told, it's hard to say what will or will not happen if the Government stops spending money since it never really manages to do so. I contend that things can and will be just fine if the government cuts spending and we as citizens dig deep and contribute time and energy to the benefit of our neighbors.
There is much talk of a "Return to Prosperity" - what is "Prosperity" exactly? It's an abstract term for sure. I prefer simple statements, like: "It sucks to be taxed" - and, "It sucks to go hungry" - "Constructive hard work feels good", and "Giving to your friends and neighbors feels good".
So, Seth, and Jim - the end results you're both aiming for don't need to be mutually exclusive. We just need to start with a list of what we all want and work backwards rather than relentlessly clinging to some ideological approach we foolishly trust will deliver satisfaction.
Now, that's common sense.
Our government is by, of, and for the people and as such we must accept responsibility for this problem. It seems that in California we continue to elect individuals who perpetrate these budget issues only to throw our frustrated hands in the air when they do so. Did we expect something different? Perhaps it is the election system itself - how much did you really know about the individuals who you voted into the State Assembly or Senate? Probably not much more than I knew when I carelessly cast my vote based upon the individual's prior career. If nothing else these budget situations call for a much closer examination of the individuals we vote into office. Regardless, we as a people are faced with three options here:
1. Raise Taxes (or, "Increase Revenues" if you're a politician)
2. Borrow more money
3. Slash basic services
I implore my fellow citizens to carefully consider the fundamental nature of options #1 and #2. In these cases we will be feeding more money into a system which (at this time) has proven itself incapable of balance, discretion, and general utility. To stand-by and allow more money to be put into such a system during such critical times would be a crime against your good judgment. There is a reason why the government is "so bad" at spending money, and it all boils down to common sense:
There are 3 purchase scenarios -
A. I buy something for myself with my money
B. I buy something for someone else with my money
C. I buy something for someone else with someone else's money
Typically, the two factors driving any purchase decision are Price and Quality. The purchase decision itself is usually a compromise of these factors combined with some driving need. In scenario's A and B, the individual making the purchase has their life directly impacted by at least one of these factors. This direct impact drives the efficiency of the purchase decision. In case C, none of the purchase decision factors have a direct impact on the individual making the purchase - so the purchase decision is less efficient by it's very nature. The "Government Spending" scenario is always scenario C - so, there's that problem.
Does this mean that we should never trust Government to spend money? Nah - but we should not be surprised when it does not do so very well. And we certainly should not allow our (OUR!!!) government to spend (or, conversely, obtain) more money when it has clearly proven itself woefully bad at doing so.
So, that leaves us with the distasteful option of slashing basic services. Now, there are some things which we as citizens cannot easily provide or contribute to as individuals - construction of roads comes to mind - but there are many things we can: education, care of and for the less fortunate, security of our neighborhoods and businesses, cleanup of litter, and the list goes on. I sometimes think of government spending in these areas as a kind of convenient, mandated morality supported by our tax dollars. The inefficiency of government is now threatening these moral mandates - and I'd argue that everything can work out just fine if we as a people band together and say "No" to government borrow-spending and "Yes" to basic human decency and common sense. I say go ahead and slash basic services (they were not that great anyhow) - and let's all commit 4 hours a month to some decent cause in it's place. You can teach children to read, you can buy and prepare food for the hungry, you can look out for your neighbors, and if you are a doctor you can care for the injured and unfortunate. Perhaps this is the true impetus behind that Democratic rally cry of 08' - "Yes We Can"....or did you think that meant that the Government could do it for you?
I suppose the follow-up question is "But will you?"...and, like, uh, when?
What are you willing to do in exchange for a government which is not buried in debt nor taxing you to death? When did we start trusting politicians more than the good-will and kindness of those around us?
How can we fix California? I do believe it all starts with fixing Us.
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