Monday, December 23, 2013

The Disappointment... & The Solution

Let's dig a little deeper today. Last week, we discussed the deadly consequences of ignoring our tattered and torn social safety net. But now, we must recap why it's become so tattered and torn. Here's a hint: We've forgotten the basics of civilization for far too long.

Why is it that we always hear that "we can't afford" proper mental health care, decent schools, and repaired roads, yet our Governor and Legislature always seem to be able to afford corporate welfare to shower upon multinational corporations like Apple that neither need the help nor deserve it? Think about that as well. How on earth does this lead to a stable economy for our state? And how on earth does neglecting the most vulnerable in our society lead to a healthy economy? 

It doesn't. That's precisely the problem. Our "leaders" in Carson City keep chasing after mythical economic unicorns while failing to provide the most fundamental building blocks of a sound economy. 

Sure, luring Hollywood to Las Vegas sounds sexy. But ultimately, that won't mean shit for economic development if our schools keep bursting at the seams, our hospitals keep stuffing patients onto Greyhound buses heading out of state, and our roads are clogged with commuters while paved with just as many potholes. We seriously need to pay attention to the rude awakening we're now receiving. We must get back to basics, and we must do so before it's too late.

This past Spring, Carson City was buzzing over visions of Hollywood glamour, Wall Street power, and Silicon Valley splendor. Yet while Governor Magic Man (R-Denial) and certain legislators were falling over each other to bask in the glory of the "razzle dazzle" of it all, they were also agreeing to yet another round of status quo.

[... T]he Legislature finally succumbed to Governor Sandoval's request for underfunded schools and inadequate public infrastructure. They may not be quite as underfunded as they were in previous sessions. Yet even Governor Sandoval's own President of the State Board of Education, Ms. Elaine Wynn herself, has described Nevada public schools as "grossly underfunded". This poorly kept secret is becoming increasingly difficult to deny.

So now, someone has to deal with it. Someone has to start fixing this structural problem. And since we saw no solutions from "leaders" in Carson City this spring, We the People must provide leadership and get it done in the fall of next year.

Wait, so what's the deal with that last sentence? What must We the People do? Here's a hint: T. E. I.

As usual, Ralston mourns the policy failures that have grown out of the dysfunctional politics of this state. And in quite a few aspects, he's right on the money. But now, we have a chance to move beyond mourning over what can't be done. We finally have a chance to seize what can be done.

So what can be done? Remember these three letters: T. E. I. 

We've had it with the overcrowded schools, overburdened teachers, and underfunded public infrastructure. And yes, we've had it with the usual hand-wringing and empty rhetoric. We now have The Education Initiative on next year's general election ballot, and we know it can (and must!) be done. 

If we want Nevada to succeed in building a better economy and a brighter future, we have to look beyond what hasn't been done and realize what must be done. Then, we have to recognize that it can be done. And of course, we then have to just do it already.

Some things just don't change. In his column on his 10 biggest Nevada political stories of 2013, Jon Ralston lamented the Nevada Legislature's failure to pass tax reform. Of course, he also screamed over "disastrous leadership" and took one more pot shot at The Education Initiative. But this time, not even he could muster enough outrage to scream all that much about the ills of "ballot box budgeting".

Sure, "ballot box budgeting" isn't ideal. But really, are underfunded schools, busted health care infrastructure, and broken transportation systems acceptable at all? Something must change. And yes, We the People must provide that change next year.

When it came to economic justice in Nevada, 2013 offered plenty of disappointment. However, there was a twist this year. 2013 also offered a chance to start changing that disappointment into solutions.

How many times have we grumbled over Carson City's failure to reach meaningful, thoughtful, and truly helpful solutions for "The T Word"? Yet in 2014, all it will take is passage of three letters (hint: T. E. I.) to move past the disappointment and finally start reaching solutions.

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