Sunday, May 2, 2010

Budget Season Redux: IED’s deployed, as per usual

It’s budget time again.   Slap!


It’s budget time again.   SLAP!!!



Yup; it’s time for the same old, same old, or as some think of it, silly season.

We have the hordes who moved to Brunswick “because of the library.”  I don’t suppose they’d be impressed if I said I moved here because of Frosty’s Donuts.  The difference between us, however obtuse it may seem, is that I don’t believe others have an obligation to keep Frosty’s operating so I can be happy.

Then we have quotes like this:

"In difficult times, how a community treats the library is an indication of what that community wants to be," Goodwin said.

Call me a goofball, or worse, but as I see it, in difficult times, how a community treats those compelled to pay for the library is an indication of what the community wants to be.  Maybe a subtle distinction to some, but a major one to this observer.

We won’t mention those who moved to town without realizing there was a major military base with an airfield from which aircraft operated, and experienced ‘physical sickness’ because of it.  How do you engage in reasonable discussions with a citizenry this unaware?  And we’re being kind here.

All of which is to say that budget time is when the IED’s come rolling out.  Whether that means “intentional emotional decreases;” or “inflammatory emotion-spiking distractions;” or “inciting emotional displays” doesn’t matter.

The effect is always the same: whipping up frenzied protests to “save our xyz,” no matter the consequences for other items or those who pay for them.

Instead of enterprise stewards leading and controlling the discourse, we have issue entrepreneurs stealing the spotlight.  Things proceed in utter conformance with the professional guide book on budget protectionism.

The perennial favorite, of course, and the argument that has the greatest leverage, is “it’s for the children.”  You don’t hate the CHILDREN, do you??? 

Coffin Pond, the library, the school budgets, it’s a children’s trifecta.

We’re told “the children are our future.”  Stop right there.  The children may be someone’s future, but they won’t be Brunswick’s or Maine’s unless both change their ways and prioritize giving ‘the children’ a promising future, which the vast majority don’t think we’re offering.  When you have schools closing and maternity wards being shut down, but mortuaries are expanding, what does that tell you?

And as much as we repeatedly hear about the devotion of our ‘education professionals,’ I always enjoy rereading this inspiring sentiment:

“When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.”

Albert Shanker - President of the United Federation of Teachers [1964-1984] & the American Federation of Teachers [1974-1997]

Perhaps it would be wise to start focusing on those who are the present, because if we don’t, the future won’t be anything worth bragging about.  Look around you; it’s time to think about the future we’re planning to leave our children, so that they want to stay here, rather than the future they might represent for us, if a thousand miles away.

An unsustainable tax burden and the demographic winter it causes won’t give us a desirable future.  Lovely library or not.  Virtually every optimistic prediction of a vibrant local economic future stems from a government subsidy program, not an environment that is naturally conducive to widespread prosperity and a systemically healthy economy.

But when you come right down to it, we don’t really want others to move here, or stay here and multiply, do we?  We don’t want what it takes to have a future “the children” would find compelling.

Oh well.  Such are the musings that stem from seeing the Other Side of things.

Like wondering why ‘pay per bag’ is fair, and even righteous, but ‘pay per book’ is an outrage against humanity.

If it’s so inhumane, maybe the Libes could adopt the short-lived school department proposal to place change jars around town to supplement their revenue.  Sounds like a great idea for Curtis; community generosity in the first person, one handful at a time.

And if that doesn’t work, as one person said, you could always ask people to pay more when their auto excise tax comes due.

Reminds me of when I passed a clipboard around for those to sign up who said they wanted to “pay more taxes.”  I’d be a lot more impressed by those who wrote out a check for the extra amount rather than suggesting how others might “plus up” their payments.

Fat chance may be an overused term, but sometimes it just fits.

Frosty’s Donuts notwithstanding.

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