Shared Sacrifices

While sitting here eating my lunch, I’ve been thinking about today’s election in Los Angeles and a wonderful opinion piece in the LA Times regarding the disfunctional California Legislature. That opinion piece has it right: government—at the local, state and federal levels—are just rearranging the deck chair. They are focusing on small saving areas that earn them political points while ignoring the elephants in the room: entitlements, government disfunction, and big business excesses. They think a close election win means they have a mandate of all the people to enforce their narrow views, and their intransigence is just making things worse.

A quick first and foremost: I think the Republican legislators in California should stop thinking they know better than the people. Put the tax extension on the ballot. If the people don’t want it, they won’t vote for it. You’ll either give the Governor the tools he needs to try to steady the California economy, or you’ll have a clear statement on taxes. But you’re disenfranchising them by not giving them the opportunity!

Sorry for the digression. My lunchtime thinking quickly turned to the lack of shared sacrifice. In WWII, FDR mobilized the population through shared sacrifice. Everyone was subject to rationing. Everyone turned in scrap and did without to help the common cause. Where is that today? We see legislators attacking the pensions of hardworking teachers… without doing anything about the pensions of government officeholders at the state and local level, which are often much more egregious. We see fees being raised on students and services cut, while we lower taxes on big business and allow them to have record profits and pay record bonuses to a few select individuals. We see continual efforts to take away from those that barely have, while seemingly enriching the pockets of those that already have more.

This is wrong. If the way to right our economic ship is by cutting, then let’s make the sacrifices across the board.