Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting The Good Things

San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, April 26, 2012.

According to this article, "Nearly 80 percent of Californians oppose $5 billion in so-called trigger cuts to state schools this fall, but only a slight majority of voters support the governor's tax plan to stop it, according to a survey of 2,000 voters released Wednesday."

Apparently, "65 percent (of voters), like the idea of a tax on the wealthy to support schools, but 52 percent of those surveyed said they don't like the sales tax increase."

That's interesting because the Millionaire's Tax, which Brown was against, would have taxed only the top 1% of earners and not increased sales tax.  The current initiative is a compromise between Millionaire's Tax supporters and Governor Brown.  Brown is the one who pushed to include the sales tax increase. 

(FYI to those who are worried:  sales tax provides only 15% of the revenue that will be brought in by the initiative.  The bulk of  the revenue is taxes on the top 3% of taxpayers in California.)

We hope, of course, that the compromise initiative passes in the Fall 2012 election.  If it doesn't, many trigger cuts will go into effect and then the dominoes will really begin to fall. 

Again, according to the article, no one (or almost no one) wants that.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all agree:  more cuts to schools is not the solution.

It's guaranteed that we as a state will never completely agree on what the solution is.  Perhaps we are lucky that we agree on the problem.

But going over the facts as stated in the article in the San Francisco Chronicle - people don't want to cut education but they don't want to raise sales tax but they didn't sign for the initiative that would have helped education and not increased sales tax - something is very clear:

There is indeed a disconnect.

We, as a people, are not thinking clearly.

We, as a people, are not being honest.

Money is about choices.

How much money do we have?  What we do want to spend it on?  Given that amount of money and given those choices, what do we choose to spend it on?

For the future, will we have or can we get more money?  Will we have different things we want to spend money on?

For that matter, all of life is about choices.

How much time do we have?  What do we want to spend it on?  Given that amount of time and given those choices, what do we choose to spend our time doing?

What do we value? 

Education?  For whom?  Under what circumstances?  

Safety?  For whom?  Under what circumstances?

Opportunity?  For whom?  Under what circumstances?

We are a culture with a capital "I".  Not all cultures capitalize their i's.  Not all cultures value the individual like we do.  Is that right?  Is that wrong?

We often use the word, "duty."  Usually in connection with "to our country."  But what does that mean?  Is "duty" only about the military?  Do we have a duty to help each other in some way?  Do we have a duty to educate our children?  Do we have a duty to assist our elders in staying as healthy and vital as  possible?  Do we have a duty to provide immigrants with the means and opportunity to participate in our culture in a responsible, contributing way? 

Do we have the duty to vote?  To participate in the democracy that we talk so much about.  In some countries, that is considered a duty.  A legal duty.  Not ours.

Whatever we choose, let us be honest.

What do we value?

What do we want?

What do we choose?

What is the cost of that choice?

And how do pay for it?

Choice, while highly valued, is often a heavy burden.  It's tough to make choices.  Tough to be honest about what is really available, what that really means, and what we really want and are willing to do about it.

If it were easy, we wouldn't avoid it so.

If it were easy, there would be fewer headlines about disconnects in our budgets - not just at the state level but in the workplace and our in personal accounts, as well.   Fewer disconnects, in general, in every area of our lives.

Disconnects that begin in the fear of looking at things honestly.

But what, really, is there to fear?

There is great power to be had in being honest.  In making choices.  And in being willing to work for what we choose.

More things are possible than we realize.  Good things. 

To get them, we just need to choose them, and do the work to get them.

And realize that good things take time.  And effort.  And community.

But they are possible.

They are, indeed, possible.

Let us choose them.

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