A Drop in the Bucket
Monday, May 18, 2009
Category: Opinion > Editorials
Faced with a nearly $20 billion hole that the state government needs to fill, perhaps our friends in Sacramento thought one of their better ideas was to put the fate of the state in the hands of its people. Maybe letting California's voters choose which of the six propositions on Tuesday's ballot will pass and which will fail serves the interests of those voters. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea-if one doesn't think about it for much more than a moment. Because considering it for any longer than a moment will leave one asking whether the State Senate and Assembly can rightfully be congratulated when they've managed to unnecessarily spend money on a special election that shouldn't be happening.
In essence, it's moments like this-when the state is faced with one of the biggest financial crises of our times, and potentially our collective 158 year-long history-that we need our state government to be as responsible and efficient as it can be, both with the budget and the time spent to fix its problems. When California's citizens need to know that government leaders are working to fix the state's problems, putting on a special election that superficially highlights all the sacrifices they're making and long hours they're spending exemplifies inefficient governing at its best-or rather, worst.
One of the main strengths of a representative democracy like ours is the implicit trust its citizens put in their representatives. That means letting them choose between a rock and a hard place without expecting us to have to decide whether the rock's particular texture is to our liking or not. Maybe a 0.38 percentage increase in roughness would be better? So when Sacramento puts the burden on us, it's not only unfair, it's irresponsible and manages to highlight our government's inability to, well, govern.
When the average citizen has to worry about his or her own particular problems, political geology is not always the most pressing issue to be studied.
They can't afford to spend the time to become adequately informed about the propositions on Tuesday's ballot, especially in light of their highly convoluted language. That's what our state legislators are being paid in tax dollars to do: consider the minutiae of our state's fiscal situation.
Furthermore, the state government knows that having even the best possible results on Tuesday do not entail a prosperous future of plenty, or ensure that they'll be able to prevent such a snafu from occurring again.
Once California's voters decide which umbrellas to use, the storm will still be here. So when the state's citizens justifiably chastise their leadership for not doing more to get out of this mess, the Sacramento politicians will have a plan to save their own skins: blame the voters. After all, they're making us vote on this, so anything bad that consequentially results can be blamed on us. Sorry, but copouts at the highest level are not what the people of California need right now.
Now is the time for our government leaders to put the future of the state, its counties, cities and people ahead of their own political prospects and aspirations. Don't worry, Sacramento: If you mess up, we'll let you know. Just don't think the reason we're here is to do your job for you.
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