Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Winter Soldiers needed for Arizona Summer heat - Budget

America has passed through several time periods that "have tried mens souls" and in Arizona we stand again at that precipice. In the past it has been both physical as well as ideological; now while it is still ideological it is also financial. We wait to see what the leaders will decide for Arizona and her people. Just like in centuries long past, the decisions that are made will determine not only how Arizona is shaped by also how her people will fare. This is when we will see if our trust in our leaders are well placed or if they will simply use their power to move ahead their agendas. As a parent sometimes I am faced with what I feel is best verses what is best for my family. At these times I defer to what is best for my family because I know not only is that my higher priority, but it is also the resposibility I have chosen.

What are we calling upon our leaders to do now? We want a responsible budget that will not sacrifice our future or make our children pay for our short-sightedness. If we have over spent now, we need to be pay it back now, not years later with interest. If our tax structure is weak, we need to re-write it so that it reflects reasonably across all income levels and commerce. We also need to keep our long-term responsibilities in mind. There are some costs that while they may not be technically our responsibility now, will greatly reduce if not eliminate costs to which we will be responsible for later.

In the United States we have a Republic and not a Democracy because it is unreasonable to think that each voting member has time to familiarize themselves with all the nuances of the government issues. That is what we have elected/hired you all to do for us. We trust that you will spend time learning how to make good government for us, not simply put the responsibility for that back on us with special elections that cost us more money.

It is time for our leaders to decide whether they are going to step up and start doing what we elected them to do, or if they are going to continue on the path that they currently are on. If we need reasonable cuts to programs, that needs to happen because those programs have been evaluated as being wasteful, not to solve lack of funding issues. As a homeowner and head of household I need to make sure that my bills are paid, that expenses are met, and the needs for my family are paid for. It is time for Arizona and it's leaders to step up and pay for expenses in a responsible way.

We need leaders that our "winter soldiers". Ones that are willing to sacrifice more than they are asking us to, ones that are willing to do the job that we have entrusted them to do.

Kristina P.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Politics and The Law of Unintended Consequences

Politics are complicated. Our country is a large, very complex system of services, mandates, checks and balances, power struggles, perceptions, economics, etc. No matter what the election time commercials may say, there are not easy, 30 second soundbite answers to the country's problems. Just look at Obama's problems.

A couple of months ago, President Obama was pushing to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. This was supposed to help with the housing crunch. Well here it is a few months later and has it helped? As near as anybody can tell, there's been no effect. He gave boatloads of money to GM and Chrysler - around $60 billion I think (which is about $200 from every man, woman, and child in the USA) - to keep them from going bankrupt. Didn't work out so well. He got a stimulus bill passed in order to prevent unemployment from going over 8.4% - now it's at 9.4% and still rising. And that's just the beginning.

Now I'm not saying that Obama is an idiot. I don't agree with his ideology, but I think he's a very smart man. However, these failures underscore that fact that there aren't any simple answers out there. Even the ones that look simple, end up being far more complex than we originally thought.

Arizona politics is no different. I'm a bit of a right leaning moderate as far a politics are concerned and I think that Governor Brewer's balanced plan sounds good on its face. I don't know enough about it to make a deep evaluation but I think that by both raising taxes (temporarily) and making cuts we can keep the government operating at a stable level and qualify for stimulus money that will help even more. To me, that seems like a good balanced approach. So, am I right or will there be unintended consequences?

The more conservative folks out there point to a study saying that if we raise taxes, we'll lose about 1,500 more jobs. Is that correct? I don't know. However, if we simply cut everything out of the government, how many jobs will be lost? How many jobs are directly and indirectly dependent on the government? Once again, I don't know, but it makes you stop and think about the law of unintended consequences.

My point is that there are very few simple solutions out there. We can't simply assume that because we don't see any problems that there aren't any problems. I think this is why compromise is so important. I think that both liberal and conservative ideologies are based on logic and are trying to steer out country towards prosperity - just in radically different ways. By coming together and compromising, I would hope that fallacies in both the conservative and the liberal ideologies can be exposed and that we'll get a better, more workable solution.

Of course, in real life it's never that easy...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Partisan Politics

What ever happened to the focus on serving the people?  You know, it's difficult not to get extremely frustrated watching the AZ State Legislature "work" on the budget.  The governor releases a budget that the ultra-conservative Republicans don't like.  What happens?  Do the Republican leaders point out where it will hurt the state?  No.  Do they articulate a coherent rebuttal based on economic data, etc?  No.  What do they do?  They complain that the governor's budget isn't Republican enough.  That the governor is not supposed to raise taxes because that's not Republican.  That she's not supposed to protect social programs like aid to the disabled because that's not Republican.  Not Republican?  Not REPUBLICAN?  Aren't our officials supposed to be working for the good of all Arizonans?  Shouldn't reality take precedence over ideology?

If Governor Brewer's budget is bad, then I expect the State Legislature to spell out why it's bad in sound economic terms.  If their budget is better, I expect them to be able to compare and contrast without resorting to ideological name calling.  Is that too much to ask?

No I admit that I don't know the specifics on either budget, but I do know that when Governor Brewer's budget came out, nobody was asking "Is that even legal?"  The State Legislature's budget didn't fare so well in that department.

Now if we could just get everybody together and look at how these budget proposals will affect us - not just this year, but 5, 10, or 15 years down the road.  Look at the short and long term effects, debate the best course of action and pass a budget that will help Arizona.  I'm tired of the partisan bickering.