There are times when it seems we are being assailed, yes assailed, by governments at all levels in our country. There are times when it seems our various governmental institutions have lost touch with what we citizens believe to be reality. We know that we have the greatest form of governance in the world, a democratic governance that permits each of us input in the form of a vote for those who best represent us and our belief system.
There are seemingly so many levels of governance as to make the combined impact of being governed difficult for us to understand and to bear up under. The temptation for many is simply to tune out, to let someone else handle the making of the decisions and that leads to even more impactful governance, some of it good and some of it not-so-good depending upon where you stand on the various issues.
For example, our local school system has provided us with its overview of what we need to invest in upkeep and expansion. We can choose from a package that totals $66.5 million or a package that totals $93.4 million. One would add $109 for every $100,000 valuation for twenty years, and the other would add $154 for every $100,000 valuation for twenty years. That is a mortgage on our collective future, and the presentation of a choice almost assures that one will be selected, no matter if the choices are decent or not. If you object, you need to voice your objection.
Our village officials make decisions monthly that affect us and most of those decisions are based upon the facts and with each elected person knowing they’re being closely watched by us voters. We need police and fire protection. We need decent streets and we need them to be plowed in the winter and stripes to be re-painted when necessary, etc. We need our garbage to be picked up and disposed of properly. We need a good water system.
Our counties have other needs and levy their share of the tax load to cover those expected outlays which are typically maintenance projects, protection by Sheriff’s deputies, disposal of hazardous items, etc.
Our state is on a “round-about” building spree that sucks millions of dollars out of the pockets of us all for each location so that we no longer have to stop and wait for our turns before proceeding to our destination. We now slow and circle until we reach the road we desire. I am told these run to the millions of dollars each and they sprout like weeds at every intersection of any import. I am also told that they significantly reduce the number of accidents and the severity of accidents and injuries.
Our nation continues to spend our tax dollars with seemingly no regard for the impact those dollars have on the pocketbooks of the taxpayers. Waste at this level is legendary.
Beyond the out-of-pocket implications, there are the psychic costs that are assessed on each of us. Do we want our children and grandchildren to be lesser-educated? Of course not, but there needs to be some semblance of noticeable stewardship for us taxpayers. Do we want our streets and roads to disintegrate? Of course not. Do we want our armed forces members to suffer from the lack of uniforms or food or ammunition? Of course not.
What we do want is reasonableness even though that is difficult to define for some of us. We want the people we elect to live up to the promises they made to us to gain our votes. We usually get our money’s worth from local government because it is just that…local. We usually get our money’s worth from county government because that is still local. We don’t always get our money’s worth from state government because it is not local, and we do not always get our money’s worth from our national government because it is even more distant from us except for our local elected officials whom we usually like enough to re-elect.
We might know our local member of Congress and we probably have never met one of our two Senators. The closer government is to us, the more control we have over that government, obviously.
What is the answer? It is this: If you do not involve yourself, you have no grounds upon which to complain. If you don’t pay attention to who does or doesn’t do what, you have no grounds upon which to complain. If you don’t vote at every level of governance, you have no right to complain.
We watch, with disgust, the political theater in Washington, D.C. but if we do not communicate our feelings and desires to those we elect to go to Washington, we’ll simply assume that each of them sees things as we do; and yet, they love our input. It gives them a real-time feel for each issue they confront. Take the time to make your thoughts known and do us all a favor. Most of us are on the same page on significant issues.