Every year we say, “We never get any spring around here; it goes directly from winter to summer.” We can’t complain about that, but if you’ve come here to read, you know that if we can’t complain about this wonderful spring we’re having, I will find something to harp about.
As I heard the Chair of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisor say just as the local election was full blown, “We’re in the silly season.” Now, just as that local silly season fades from view, we’re in another silly season. The Democrats and Republicans have come out swinging mano a mano, or should I say moneyo a moneyo.
Oh yes, as you know there’s a pile in it this time around, from Congressional to the Presidential race, the stacks of money wallpaper the world. Considering the “Citizens United” supreme court case, in which corporations, mega and not so mega can spend as many green backs as they want, unfettered by logic or morality. It’s a whole new ballgame and you lose.
But I’m not harping. TV screens everywhere are filled with ads describing the side that will give them the most favor, a clever people-minded bunch. While I haven’t seen many positive ads, there are a few out there.
Don’t go away, I’ll get to some real harping in a paragraph or two.
This from a guy named John Ralston Saul, “…The perfection of the image [television] has brought us to a whole new state of expectation. We are the image. We are the viewer and the viewed. There is no other distracting presence. And that image has all the Godly powers. It kills at will. Kills effortlessly. Kills beautifully. It dispenses morality. Judges endlessly. The electronic message is man as God and the ritual involved leads us not to a mysterious Holy Trinity, but back to ourselves. In the absence of clear understanding that we are now the only source, these images cannot help but return to their expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies. This in turn facilitates the use of the electronic image as propaganda by whoever can control some part of it.”
In other words, especially now since only six media corporations own all media outlets, the television screen is going to decide the outcome of the coming election. The commercials between dance steps and notes coming from Idols will both directly and subliminally push our vote in the direction that may not be in our best interest.
But I’m not harping.
I’m thinking about a few years ago when budgets around the state were going to hell in a hand basket. The state didn’t have enough money to cover expenses, therefore transportation projects were halted, the Virginia Retirement System was raided and money that school divisions typically get from the state was slashed. If you remember, those were some worrisome times.
The school budget was cut by $80 million and eliminated 325 positions in 2010. The year before the Federal stimulus package laid $20 million of funding on Chesterfield schools, trimming the hole in the Chesterfield Public Schools budget and allowing the Superintendant to cut only 120 positions rather than the 525 previously proposed. The stimulus plugged a hole in the dike until the following year when the stimulus ran out and the economy dumped on all of us.
But I’m not harping.
In fact, I’ve been following some of the economic doom and gloom through some articles and online newspapers. Please don’t burn down my house after you read what I have come to believe. How a new stimulus could help pull us out of this quagmire. The idea is simple, the new stimulus, although it should be called something else less controversial, would start its funding at the local level. Say Chesterfield County would get $500 million; the county in turn would fund new jobs by contracting for new roads, schools, business development and so on. That in turn would create jobs, right. More jobs means more money in the local economy. More money in the local economy means more private investment in business, more taxes collected by Chesterfield, Virginia and eventually the Federal government – a trickle up program rather than trickle down process.
Imagine if you cut the Federal deficit, some $15 trillion, until it was at the 2000 level of about $5 trillion. That’s a lot of cutting – some $200 billion per state and over $50,000 per person in the U.S. Are we seriously about to cut school teachers, police, firefighters, social service workers, utilities, planners and so on, and expect the private sector to pick up the slack?
Why can’t we stabilize local government first to help increase demand as I stated above, you know, build and fix local roads, stabilize teacher-drain and other local programs. According to economist Alan Blinder, “Government policies can be used to increase demand and economic activity, reducing unemployment and deflation. For example, when the unemployment rate is very high, a government can use a dose” of stimulation funds by the Feds to prop up local government and expand local economies.