It’s OK to do dumb things if the only person affected is you — but it’s another thing entirely to do dumb things on behalf of 9 million other people.
It’s OK to do dangerous things if the only person affected is you — but it’s wrong to endanger other people—and very wrong to endanger the lives and livelihoods of 9 million other people.
Those who advocate fixing our budget shortfall by cutting without raising any revenue are acting in a dumb and dangerous way, and it’s not funny, trivial, or ‘just politics.’ It has very real and long-lasting implications for our economy. It’s also impossible.
The Justice Center’s John Quinterno, a keen observer and researcher on economic trends, observed this week that lawmakers could eliminate the entire higher education system — two-and four-year schools — and still not close the budget gap for 2010.
So that’s impossible.
Quinterno also noted that “the public sector is the only real source of demand for goods and services” in this economy. Education and health services are among the few sectors of the economy adding jobs, but guess who’s hiring? You and I are, as stewards of the public trust. Under current budget plans, up to 10,000 more jobs could be eliminated. These are people doing important work for us — and when we lay them off, who will pay their income taxes, and mortgages, and car payments?
Firing all those people would be both dumb and dangerous, not only for our kids’ future and our own safety — it would also be dangerous for our economy.
Consider the long-term implications of shutting the doors to community colleges and denying health insurance to kids whose parents are out of work. Does that really make sense, to handicap our future for short-term political expedience?
We can afford to carefully raise taxes on selected services and on the wealthiest members of our society, who have prospered from the public investments we’ve made in education, health care, transportation and the environment. We can afford to close some corporate tax loopholes without being unfair, unwise, or driving industries away. Other states have done this and we can, too.
Let’s have an adult conversation about the choices before us, and stop talking dumb and dangerous. We have too much at stake to engage in politics as usual.