Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Money for Nothing and the Chicks for Free

The second session of the 124th Maine Legislature convenes on January 6, 2010. The Epiphany. Wouldn't it be great if three kings brought gifts totaling $438 million to fill the hole in the Maine state budget? Hope springs eternal, but it's likely the kings aren't showing up, and neither is the second coming of Almighty Stimulus. We can't afford to do everything for everyone who wants and perhaps deserves a government hand-up.

Does everyone you know want a program to help them and simultaneously believe government wastes money on unnecessary programs? As the big business with the high paid lobbyist you argue convincingly in a soft voice and expensive suit at a reception that your company employs hundreds of people whom you pay a decent wage and provide health insurance, therefore you deserve a break. It's the least government can do since without you more people would be on the government rolls sucking money from the tax payers. You pay high income and property taxes and its fair for government to offer some carrots in the mix. There is always North Carolina, after all.

If you are a small business, you wipe the sweat from your brow, look government in the eye and plead for common decency and mercy. You are tilling the soil, milking the cows and baking the artisan breads that keep the "rural" in rural Maine. You add community and landscape to the Maine economy, and have practically nothing to show for it but some scar tissue and a blue ribbon from the Common Ground Fair. Surely your small family enterprise deserves a subsidy to account for the outlandish corporate welfare that props up the distended and grotesque behemoths that put Main Street out of business.

You might just be a really angry individual who went to one of those Tea Parties and can't understand why the government is bailing our banks and investment companies out with your money when you and your neighbors' houses are being foreclosed and no one in your family can find a job. The government, damn it, should be protecting freedom and guns. Period.

And then of course there is you, child. You don't even realize that your health, hopes and dreams barely ever make it in to the conversation. You have no lobbyist to fight for quality childcare and innovative schools. Your parents are working around the clock like dogs and can't afford to take even a sick day off, and nobody is putting quarters in the jar for your college education. You eat bad food because it’s cheap, play video games because no chaperone is required and are denied the wonder and glory of the natural world because you aren't allowed out of the house alone.

So what do you think the government should be doing?