Saturday, July 4, 2009

Love Thy Country

I was alarmed to see a rather elderly man standing in 100-degree heat yesterday outside of my local Walmart. He was holding a sign that said, "Lower Taxes!" The Cons and Neo-cons are at it again, following up on their pointless tea party of April 15.

Nobody's going to stand out in the sun holding a sign that advocates for higher taxes. But let's face it--it takes money to run a government. And our governments--state, local, and federal--are what give us the American lifestyle we all so enjoy (and are rapidly exporting to the rest of the world). It seems to me that on the day we celebrate the founding of our nation, a little gratitude might be in order.

Events of the past few weeks have brought news of chaos in Iran following a sham election, suppression of free speech in China, and brutal persecution of gay people in several African nations. Wouldn't it be appropriate, just for today, to celebrate the fact that we have a right to protest? (And it requires money to, among other things, protect those rights.)

I'd be willing to bet that if we asked one of these addle-pated protesters exactly where they would economize without sacrificing benefits, they'd be hard pressed to give a specific example. Like the Republican Party to which many of them undoubtedly swear allegiance, they seem to be just generally against.

It's a shame that we acknowledge respectful rules of etiquette in casual conversations but discard them completely in our national discourse. A good rule of business communication is not to complain unless you can offer specific, constructive alternatives. Just once, I'd like to see anti-tax protesters try to wave signs that say what they really mean. "Lower Police Salaries" would go over well on a local level, for example. Or how about, at the national level, "Stop Funding Medical Research." Those might not be good ideas, but at least they are ideas--specific positions that can be proposed, discussed, attacked, defended.


Idna said...

Happy Independence Day, Jane,

"Wouldn't it be appropriate, just for today, to celebrate the fact that we have a right to protest?" -These are your words! And then you spend your entire post complaining that some people are doing just that. Go figure.

I'm happy to read that you write glowingly about our "American lifestyle we all so enjoy (and are rapidly exporting to the rest of the world.)" So why do we need to drastically CHANGE so many things about this wonderful country? All those changes, with the obscene size of government needed to run them, will have to be paid for by someone. The more and more government bureaucracies, the more taxes have to be collected. It's not rocket science.

Those "protestors" that you so vehemently disdain also love this country and fear for it's existence because of all the proposed "CHANGES" to our lifestyle.

Obviously you have not been anywhere near a Tea Party or similar group get-together. I have. There are countless signs spelling out exactly which of our freedoms they are not about to give up without a fight.

So if you really mean what you say - "Just once, I'd like to see anti-tax protesters try to wave signs that say what they really mean."- pay attention next time, go read the signs and you will have your wish.

Anonymous said...

Would a sign such as the following be specific enough?

"Cut the salt marsh harvest mouse preservation program, Nancy."

Citizen Jane said...

Lol. There you go, A! That sign would at least suggest that the protester had nurtured an actual thought, instead of just indulging in the general emotional angst that so many people seem to enjoy!

Idna said...

That would be a really funny sign ... however the truth behind it isn't so funny.

"The Obama administration revealed last week that as much as $16.1 million from the stimulus program is going to save the San Francisco Bay Area habitat of, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse."

This should really stimulate the economy. Way to go Madam Pelosi, San Fran thanks you for this piece of pork.

Citizen Jane said...

Hello, Idna,

It happens that I just returned from Atlanta, where I visited the Georgia Aquarium and learned a great deal about the critical importance of salt marshes.

These marshes are essential to the propagation and survival of many species, and their health is necessary to protect the interests of the world-wide fishing industries. If one species in a marsh is declining, it's a virtual certainty that the marsh as a whole is in trouble and other species are also threatened.

Saving a salt march can mean making extensive improvements to the infrastructure of nearby cities--an undertaking likely to create jobs and commerce.

Even if it weren't for the importance of salt marshes to the health of rivers, shorelines, and fisheries, there are those of us who feel that there are values worth investing in that have nothing to do with money. Protection of the environment and unique ecosystems is one of them.

Idna said...

Hi Jane,
There is nothing wrong with saving salt marshes, harvest mice, whales, muskrats, etc. But there is a time to do it and a time to focus on more important things.

Right now California is passing out IOU's instead of paying for essential sevices. The state is so far in the red that PEOPLE are going to be endangered. (I will refrain from commenting on the Calif. ultra liberal legislature that is a major reason this state is in such a mess.)

Let's save the mice after we take care of humans. That $16.5 million could have been used much more wisely considering the current state of things.

Citizen Jane said...

First, scientists studying that salt marsh may feel that time is running out. When it comes to health of the environment, there is a point of no return. Secondly, the overall purpose of the project says nothing about how the money is spent. If it creates jobs and infuses money into the state, it's good for California. You can't judge the worthiness of the entire project from a few sentences or sound bites.

Of the thousands of projects funded by stimulus money, none of us would rank them all the exactly the same way in terms of importance. I would have liked my state legislature to apportion my state's part of the package a little differently, but there you have it. In a democracy, collective decisions won't always please every individual.