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A thought about California parks and politics

In today’s post a caveat: I apologize to everyone not living in California and to those who don’t even care about California -the state along the extreme western edge of the United States that provides a long water levee that keeps the Pacific Ocean from flooding the rest of  West.

I have to take issue, formally, publicly, FINALLY, regarding California’s politics. This is being spurred by something I read in today’s paper.  As background:  I was born and raised Californian.  I was born in the Oakland Naval Hospital [when I shall not say] and spent my growing up years in a small town in the Central Valley.  I left California after high school spending a little time in the US Navy as a journalist then went to college in both Michigan and Oregon.  I’ve lived for short times in Hawaii, Virginia, Michigan and Oregon…but always I end up here in California.  But I digress.

Politics is a subject I don’t like. It’s a necessary evil of our system of human interaction, of society, but I don’t like it.  If I could have just one thing change about the whole messy institution of politics it would be this: once an election is over and the people are settled into the offices for which they were elected, then all party affiliations are left at the curb.  This would mean that legislation would be dictated only by the way in which the elected people’s hearts and minds – hopefully mostly their intelligent application of same – read and saw each issue and concern and NOT by any sway of any political party.  Party politics should have no in once elections are over.  [I can hear you now: this is total pie-in-the-sky.]

What brought this tirade on?  Why am I not posting about small and home-based business today?  Front page story today headlined with “Parks to close, soiling a legacy.” [read article here ] It’s no secret that California has a sad and embarrassing history of not meeting its budget.  Budget ills get passed from one governor and state governing body to the next.  [Now I like Arnold Schwarzenegger and will tell you I voted for him but I did wonder why in the world he would want this awful job.]  I was expecting the news of the closure of state parks as a budget line item and here it is and it is a terrible thing all the way around.  Not good for the parks, not good for the public, not good for the people employed in the state parks system and not good for the governor’s popularity.  Just not good.  But here’s where I got a tad incensed: a comment quoted to Kevin Starr, a historian at the University of Southern California:

  • “….Does it take closing the parks to get a spoiled, politically lazy public to pay attention to state government?” Starr asked. “Californians want everything, but they don’t want to pay for it….”

Here’s why I, a citizen of California, got upset:

  • I vote.  I am not politically lazy.
  • I pay taxes.  We pay taxes and fees to the point sometimes we feel like it just doesn’t make any difference because the state legislature mishandles the state budget so badly.
  • It just feels lazy to blame “the public” when the public never ever (a) has all the information necessary to make informed choices, (b) does not have the expertise necessary to make intelligent choices – that’s what the experts are for, and (c) cannot fix the details.

My apologies to Mr. Starr for taking issue with his statement – he’s got the credentials to know what he’s talking about, but it just feels wrong.  It’s a huge shame on the California legislature bodies of the past for our present to be so sad.  Don’t put the blame on a citizen population that is currently reeling with layoffs, job loss, housing loss, inability to pay basic survival bills, increased fees and taxes…in fact, don’t point fingers at all.  Just suck it up, make the best decisions possible and let’s get this state “golden” again.  Why?  Because my grandson lives here.  He’s only 2-years old, but I want him to be proud to call himself a native Californian someday.

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