Friday, May 15, 2009

Save the State

The latest from the Govenator indicates that if the propositions don't pass next Tuesday, we face drastic budget cuts, layoff, and the selling of state property, including the land surrounding the Chino prison.... Yeah, I just want a house located next to a prison! So are his threats empty, or not? He threatens to cut school funding, reduce the academic year, reduce staffing at prisons, release prisoners early, and cut Medi-cal which provides medical care to the needy. Not one word about increasing taxes on the rich! Trouble is, even if that was on the table it probably wouldn't pass because of the crazy 2/3 requirement for passing a tax increase and the anti-tax attitude that prevails amongst the voters of California. According to the Press-Enterprise, three quarters of likely voters hope the measures' defeat will " send a message to the governor and the state Legislature that voters are tired of more government spending and higher taxes.

Well, I, for one, think we should give the voters just what they ask for. As a long time government employee I have seen it time and time again... Funding is cut, but no one is allowed to mention that to customers complaining that their application is slow to be approved. Hours of operation must remain the same. And, because the work is continually increasing, more must be done with fewer people and less money. Remaining employees are worked to the point of exhaustion, worker's comp and sick leave usage increases. A vicious cycle ensues. Nothing is wrong with reducing costs, but trying to maintain the same level of service is ridiculous! Time to give the people the government they want to pay for!

To begin with, if there is not enough money to pay full time staff, go part time, but don't have full time operating hours! Have every government office, including welfare and social programs, senior programs, housing and economic development programs, the District Attorney, the courts, every single one, go to a four day work week. Make a Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday work week the normal working hours of every government office in the state. Yes, it will be inconvenient for some. Yes, I know some are bound by law to complete things in a certain number of days.... Change the laws! Drastic time require drastic action! Some developer may not be able to get a building permit on exactly the day they want it or everyone may not be able to go to the DMV on that day they are closed, but what seems to be lost on California's public is that you get what you pay for. Pay part of the cost of government and you get a part time government. Doing this will automatically reduce salary costs as no one, including managers and elected officials will work, or get paid for, more that 32 hours a week. If their contract prohibits that, change the contract.

Second, allow all those drastic cuts to happen. Let the people live with the path they have chosen. Wait for them to recognize that more children are sick because the don't have medi cal to go to the doctor so as a result, their children are sicker. Let prisoners be released and let the public live with the results, whatever they may be. Stop fixing potholes and people will be spending much more than they do on taxes to fix their cars due to damage caused by rough roads. Cut welfare so we have even more people begging on street corners.. maybe they will even come to your house! Or we could have more tent cities, slums, and homeless. Reduce the numbers of police and fire and when the reduction causes houses to burn, or crime to remain unsolved tell the truth... the lack of funding will not allow the level of service they have come to expect. And for those of you who think the same services can be provided by private companies at a cheaper rate, that is a fairy tale.... a really scary fairy tale. Ask anyone in child support.

It always amazes me that the same people who complain that they haven't had a raise think that the government should be able to operate on the same budget. Costs go up, but the public doesn't want to pay for that increased cost. That's all good, but expect some reduction in service, expect the senior center won't be open all the time, that lunches for seniors and children will be eliminated, that crime will increase, poverty will increase, and that nothing will ever be the same. And for those of you who have the money to live in gated communties with private security, can send your kids to private school, and don't think you will ever need help from the government in any way, I think that letting us all live with the government we want to pay for will show us exactly how important government really is.

I don't want this to happen, but until we hit rock bottom we will never implement real change that will fund our government at the level necessary. We will continue to defend the right of the rich to remain rich, while voting to eliminate the services that the majority of those who are not rich need on a daily basis.

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