GOVERNMENT GAMES – Marilyn Armstrong

In my neighborhood, my right-hand neighbor hates cops. He doesn’t want to pay for them. The guy on the left resents school taxes.  He never had kids. Never wanted them. He doesn’t want to pay for education none of his children will ever use.

Meanwhile, down the road, that guy has a big powerful SUV. He doesn’t care if the roads are plowed because his transport can plow through anything. If you can’t get through, well, too bad. Why should he pay for your transportation? He’s got his own. He also probably would step over you if you had a heart attack and were lying nearly dead on the sidewalk.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Then there’s that odd family up on the hill. They home-school their kids and don’t let them talk to anyone who isn’t on their “list.” They don’t believe in government. He doesn’t feel he should have to pay for anything. They are the creepy family who wouldn’t turn their hose on if the neighbor’s house was on fire. You want him choosing which taxes to pay?

In theory, Americans settled this issue at the beginning as part of the Revolution.

Taxes exist and we pay them because we are required to do so. You don’t have to like anything about the government, governor, Congress, or the school board. Or the cops, the town selectman, or the Mayor.

There are laws and we abide by them. Our government is not lunchtime in a diner where you pick what you want from the menu. The closest you can get to that kind of choice is voting for whoever you believe will support the programs you support.

If you don’t have children, you still need to recognize how important education is. It isn’t whether or not you or yours use the school. Failure to educate is how we got to the sad state we are in. If we continue to keep slashing education the way we have in the past, our national life will be worse, maybe even worse than we imagine.

Every time we need to cut government funds, we slash education as if education is of so little importance, we needn’t bother with it. We underpay teachers, underfund schools — and then complain that people are stupid. Meanwhile, we work very hard to make sure they remain stupid and their kids, too.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. We don’t live in little tribes in caves. We all depend on our government and each other for survival, socialization, culture … everything. I need Social Security and Medicare. We all need roads, even if we don’t drive because whether it’s our own vehicle or a bus, it runs on a road. If all our “stuff” is delivered, they too need roads. We need bridges repaired whether or not we cross that river. Our visitors, doctors, delivery people, friends, and family may cross that river and may not have a convenient canoe for paddling.

Education benefits us all, as does the fire department, police … and oh yes, roads. And the military, National Parks. If I don’t get to visit every single one of them, I am happy they exist.

Even if I never drive through Texas, the roads there are part of the bill that makes sure my roads are paved. And I actually care whether or not people I don’t know live decent lives. It isn’t just about me or mine. I don’t believe the government should be a game where people we elected are allowed to pick and choose who lives and dies. We aren’t pieces on a board.

Vote sensibly, try to make sure other intelligent people vote. Set the glibness aside and make the best choice you can. Not every pol is bad. True, the awful ones are currently in charge, but who put them there? People voted for those losers. We didn’t have a revolution and it wasn’t a junta. It was voters — and the Russians.

There’s a lot of stuff — like disability, for example — for which a lot of people don’t want to pay. Or Medicare and Social Security. There are a million things the government does to keep things going. Take that away and we are alone, making do and only the wealthy survive.

To make a country, you need people who care about each other and share some fundamental beliefs. We need to believe that other people matter and recognize that we will share the funding with people we’ll never know. That is what makes a nation as opposed to a bunch of tribes living in caves and throwing rocks at each other.

Round two of four – Detroit

I never believe anything politicians say when they are trying to get elected. At best, they can promise what they want — hope — to deliver. The result will depend on many variables so whatever they say is what they want to do. It doesn’t make them liars or evil if they can’t deliver.

They can’t promise anything because no matter what you-know-who says, a president doesn’t make laws and can’t do whatever he or she wants to do. Elections and nominees offer us hopes and dreams, but they aren’t etched in stone. We can reasonably assume many of them will not be met.

Not all politicians are the kind of sleaze we see in Washington today. Many have the world’s best intentions but have a congress who won’t pass their ideas into law. Or have a Supreme Court that doesn’t think the legislation is legal — or at least this court says that. Who knows what the next one will think?

We do the best we can or we’ll live under fascism or in chaos. Take your pick. Neither sounds good.

We have made some progress throughout the years. Not enough, but some. Before you throw out the bathwater, make sure the baby isn’t in it.

13 thoughts on “GOVERNMENT GAMES – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. What a sad day for the country with the acquittal of 45 — but it was bound to be sad either way! I never particularly liked Mitt Romney, but I was proud of him today as he announced his decision to vote for conviction on at least one of the counts! Now, hopefully, we can get on with the elections and remove 45 that way.

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    • Following the ghastly Iowa primaries, I’m not very optimistic. We are so disorganized and chaotic, I don’t know how we are going to actually come up with a real candidate to run against Trump. Hard to save the baby when everyone is enthusiastically dumping the bathwater.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bingo! Last night’s State of the Union address slight-of-hand trick of re-naming “public schools” “government schools” was meant to appeal to this anti-government, anti-“public” stupidity. DJT thinks we’re stupid. We just may be — in no small part because public education has been gutted.

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    • We complain about stupidity yet keep reducing money for education. I don’t suppose those morons get it. Even very intelligent people aren’t going to learn anything in schools with a bad curriculum and lacking good teachers. Here in Massachusetts, everything is designed so they can pass standardized tests and except for rote memorization, I don’t think anyone really learns anything. They start ignorant and graduate ignorant.

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  3. All absolutely true. We have to care about education because the youth of today are the ones that will be running the country in a few more decades and I’d like them to do a decent job. I don’t have kids but other people’s kids will grow up to make decisions that will affect my wellbeing. It’s in our interest to look at the big picture.
    As you say we all use roads, even if we don’t drive. We may never visit our National Parks but we need our green spaces and so does our wildlife. We need to pay for our police, medical services, firefighters and other services that keep us safe.
    People who want to pick and choose what they pay for are a bit like survivalists in SF films who are only concerned with keeping themselves safe and won’t share with others. That’s not how you rebuild society. When we vote we should vote for the party with the policies that are good for all the people not just the ones who can afford to donate to the cause.

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    • I agree, but many people resent school taxes and paying for roads and waterworks. We used to have a police department and it now down to 2 full-time and 1 part-time person. We have a brand new fire station, but just one paid firefighter. All the others are volunteers. Fortunately, we have a lot of volunteers. And when there is a big fire in the valley, all the other towns band together to fight it. God forbid we should have a really big fire. The last really big one was 9 years ago and it took all the firefighters they could call in a month to put it out.

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      • That’s pretty much how it works here, every country town has a fire station manned by volunteers. The Geeveston one had I think two or three tankers manned by volunteers, Each town would back each other up in a larger fire . Last summer the paid firefighters from the city and suburbs came as well as volunteer units from any town in the state that could spare them. We even had volunteers fly in from the USA, Canada and New Zealand and this year has been the same. Here at Sisters Beach the fire station is tiny, one tanker. The National Parks and Wildlife Service also have firefighters and they all cooperate with each other. Geeveston has one policeman, Sisters Beach does not have any although Wynyard seems to have a bigger police station I don’t know how many officers they have. Police are spread pretty thinly everywhere I think.

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