Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"The generosity of the voters"

Yesterday I went to Sacramento to speak to the legislative budget committee on what the committee chair sarcastically called "the governor's revised revision of the May revise" of the budget. 

The room was packed, standing room only, and the line went out the hall. During the public comment period, which lasted well over an hour, I joined citizen after citizen in appeals to our legislators. Each of us begging them not to cut education in our state further, describing the crippling blows our local schools and services have taken. No one spoke in favor of smaller government, less taxes or more cuts to education or health and human services. Yet the majority sat powerless to act, because of the tyranny of a few ideologues who have sworn a blood oath with their party to raise no new revenue, no matter what. 

In California, it takes a two thirds vote to levy any new tax. In spite of a 59% vote in favor of new taxes in our district, we cannot raise money to stem the hemorage created by the violent slashing of the state budget. People are literally jobless, homeless and hungry,  yet they sit smug and satisfied to do more harm.

One Republican member asked about the fraud, waste and abuse in In Home Supportive Services for the disabled that were, in his words "taking advantage of the generosity of the taxpayers." To him, I say this:

  •  These services are so hard to get, I can't imagine fraud waste and abuse in the system. If there is, you risk killing the patient trying to excise the last of the cancer. Seriously, how much more can you spend trying to prevent unnecessary expenditures? 
  • Second, charity and generosity are neither if they are given with resentment and used to shame the recipient. Generosity and charity exalt the giver and the receiver. That which you do unto the least of these...
  • Third, and most importantly, programs for the disabled are not built by generosity, they are built by wisdom. You are likely to need these one day. 
As one great legislator once said, you will never be black, you will never be a woman, but you may easily become disabled on your way home

Many people have told me that my daughter was born so that I could learn-- if there is a force out there that guides the life experiences we have in order that we may learn compassion, humility, and generosity first hand, may that force bring those lessons to the Republican party of California. And may no one else need suffer while they are learning.