One week after the special election and Californians are continuously blaming Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for cutting back on education, law enforcement, and healthcare programs. Many citizens act as if the governor is deliberately picking on certain groups — as if he enjoys eliminating jobs and seeing children suffer without healthcare.
Being frustrated at the actions of the governor is one thing, but blaming him for our problems is careless and shows a lack of responsibility.
Even though all of our livelihoods are attached to the budget and the deficit, less than 12% of California voters showed up to the polls on May 19, 2009.
Perhaps the election was not well advertised, but every registered voter should have received their “Official Voter Information Guide” with election information. Some of the wording in the guide is in legal jargon, but it is presented in clear enough language for any reasonable person to go through and make a valid decision. Most people could probably read the 63 page document in two to three hours at max.
Instead of reading the information and taking part in decisions that could vastly change the way our state funds certain programs, nearly 80% of Californians could simply not be bothered to read the information, let alone vote.
Unfortunately, from the 12% that did vote, the outdated ideology of “just say no to tax increases” won the day. While no one enjoys a tax increase, we are in an economic crunch and have very few options to begin with.
Let’s quickly take this situation out of the political arena and relate it to something more close to home:
Like many American families, credit card debt is slowly draining us dry. If one day you and your family sat down and discussed your debt, the conversation may include some of the following.
You would tell your family that the amount of money you owe is too great, and that the debt will never go away if you keep using the cards and only pay monthly premiums. From here you give your family options.
As a family you would have to agree to stop using the credit cards and pay an additional amount of money on each card every month. To pay that extra money the family would have to agree to some slight changes. For instance, instead of going out to dinner twice a week, you would agree to cut back to only once a week. Family members would make coffee at home instead of buying fancy coffee drinks on a daily basis. And finally, instead of going to the movies every weekend during peak hours, you and your family would agree to only go during matinee hours every other weekend.
If as a family you decide to not give up your luxuries and keep using the credit cards, the family would go deeper into debt. Eventually this could result in repossession of vehicles and a foreclosure on your home. Without a vehicle you would have a difficult time getting to work and keeping your job, and without a home you would have to find an apartment that accepted your bad credit, or live with relatives.
In this example the options given to the family are similar to the slight changes that could have been caused had more of the propositions passed. We as a state decided we did not want to give up any of our luxuries, i.e. we didn’t want any extended tax increases or minor program cutbacks. Now we are faced with extreme program cuts and further unemployment.
Lawmakers and the governor tried to give us options to help us eliminate our debt without completely eliminating programs and jobs. Nowhere on the special election ballot did it state that voting “no” on certain propositions meant causing lawmakers to cut further programs. However, it is the only option left that we have given to the government.
If you tried to have the propositions passed by voting “yes,” then you can at least recognize that you made an effort. If you didn’t want to give up your luxuries because of your dislike for minor tax increases, then you have no one to blame for these extreme cuts but yourself.