According to a recent report from NBC affilliate, KCRA 3 in Sacramento, California, Governor Schwarzenegger has once again carved into the lives of the poor, the young, the infirmed, and those least able to bear the edge of his economic scalpel.
Programs like Cal-WORKS, which is the work-for-welfare program, mental health services, foster parent programs, and other necessary departments are being slashed to accommodate the $20 billion shortfall. According to the report, this budget reduction will affect 1.4 million people in the third largest state in the union. With a total population of 38,292,687 California citizens, that means that over 3.5% of the people in the Golden State are going to have to decide what to do in response to this situation.
One must wonder whether the highest paid administrators in state government are taking cuts in their pay, or if there is going to be a reduction in any of their benefits.
The lame duck governor has also indicated that a budget will not be signed that is not accompanied by budget and pension reforms. That is akin to saying that we must have better architectural plans for a barn that is currently burning. I’m certain that in Governor Schwarzenegger’s mind he is trying to avoid future issues of this type; however, as is spoken in the vernacular, he is “a day late and a dollar short.”
It was less than a year ago, we were discussing the the fact that the governor was flexing his muscles in areas that were not a top priority for the majority of Californians.
Programs such as research grants, expansion of prisons and universities, secondary transportation activities that are not being supplemented by the federal government, and parks and recreation should be cut long before programs that support children and the ill.
There should be three rules of thumb by which the governor reviews the budget:
1. Does this item support our children in any way?
2. Does this item support physical and mental health care for the largest number of people?
3. Does this item promote employment in the state?
Anything else should be eligble for reduction.
The ironic thing is that after all these years contending with Governor Schwarenegger, we’re finally realizing that he doesn’t meet any of these criteria.
Hey! that gives me an idea!
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The world economy and me. Isn’t this how we all perceive what is going on with the world economy? Everything from Chinese exports to the value to the Euro to the ludicrous increase in the cigarette tax in California. If you are anything like me, you are asking, “Why is this happening to me?”
The challenge is, of course, that as deeply affected as we all are at an individual level, it would be impossible for those in Washington or at the G20 conference to know each of us by name and consider our individual lives.
Yet, here were are, in the midst of an economic situation similar to that of the one our parents and grandparents talked about during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.
What did they do? Because of their work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, although frustrated and sometimes feeling fairly hopeless, they dug in . The kept looking for work, the continued to make sure their families had something to eat, and they supported those in their communities who couldn’t take care of themselves.
Is that what we are doing today? Is that how we are approaching things? No. The truth is, we are thinking, “How can we keep our 2,500 square foot home with all the luxuries to which we have become accustomed? How am I able to buy my children the latest fashions when I can’t afford gas for the car? Why can’t I keep swimming in my heated swimming pool all winter?”
We must accept the accurate assessment of where we are and take action to improve our situation as best we can while still remembering that we are part of a community.
Are we built for that? I’m not really sure any more. I would love to believe we are, but the evidence is dwindling in some ways.
I see the television where wonderful people are collecting clothes, toys and non-perishable food items for those who cannot afford them. They give me hope. Even something as simple as buying someone a meal, encouraging them get out of the house once a month for some entertainment helps.
We are hopefully compelled to remember others in this very difficult time and not look solely at our own situation. I suspect that through community and compassion, we will get through this time together.
And, for those who say that I am being a bleeding heart liberal, I say, you may be one who is receiving a bonus from a company who just got a huge bailout, or have always paid your own tab and not someone else’s bill. To you, I say, your perception about our situation counts, too. You, too, are a member of this society and we all need your participation, as well.
This is not a condemnation of anyone; just a simple reminder from a simple man who is living in the world as it is, hoping to see us be the people I know we can be.