Making the Future a Priority

MartinZehr's picture

The California state budget cannot be handled as "business as usual". If we do not establish priorities than everyone will suffer. We are seeing this in education cuts and higher education grant cuts. The defeat of Adachi's proposition demonstrates that there is not yet a willingness to prioritize spending. Many are not willing to restructure state and local spending in order to provide for the future. We cannot have it all. Everyone is getting less because there remains sacred cows in the budget that no one has the willingness to cut. Revenues will not increase on their own.
Can we define priorities? It is political courage to define how to go forward so that we do not fail the needs of young people. It is not courage in the sense that the risk to people threatens their lives. It is courage because action requires going against interests who have disproportional influence among state legislators in the budget process. We can endure it no longer. We know what can be expected if someone addresses the fatal illusion. The courage needed here is to abandon preset agendas and define new priorities.
This cannot be done at the individual level. It needs to be done within the political parties. We see how the Tea Party has demonstrated a willingness to redefine Republican Party policies based on the budget deficit at the national level. They will be effective only to the degree that "business as usual" remains the mantra of others. Democrats who continue to try and create a panic over their "extremism" and fail to address the kind of restructuring needed are banking that this fear is sufficient in itself to avoid the inevitable difficult choices.
The debate needs to focused on what we need to prioritize and how we do what is needed to bring expenditures down. As things stand now there is a disingenuous debate that is focused solely on "taxing the rich" that will not define what our state or national priorities are. At the state level there are hard choices to be made. Some will call it austerity and demonstrate. There is no getting around that some will lose in comparison to what they have now.
There is plenty to debate in regards to what our priorities will be. The consequences will be profound. Leadership needs to establish a new mandate for the future. Failure do so only expands the budget bubble that will burst as inevitably as all the other bubbles before. My own life situation gives me no comfort at all in regards to the real impacts that will affect my life as a result. We need to work together to get through hard times, and we cannot do this when we accept denial as our foundation. I think of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone"used by the Liverpool soccer team from the Rogers and Hammerstein show Carousel:   "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself."

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137