Monday, October 4, 2010

Push for More, Not Less

I just read that Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature have agreed to a deal that will close the 19 billion dollar budget gap. Details have not yet been revealed. 19 billion! That is a stunning number. To get it down to a reasonable size, that is $554 per California resident. It is less than $1.50 per day for each resident.

I point this out because my neighborhood is peppered with signs that say, “No on D,” a referendum to increase the sales tax in San Diego. After all, our city is similarly in a financial crunch. But let me stay with the big picture. Our state economy is 1.85 trillion dollars. We have more fortune 500 headquarters than any other state except Texas, which has the same number. Truth be told: there is plenty of wealth in California to pay the state’s current bills.

To end our financial crisis, however, we must recover a sense of the common good. We must decide that our neighbor’s welfare is just as important as our own. In fact our own welfare is inextricably connected to our neighbor's.

Another truth: we are not paying our own way. We are investing in a society that relies too much on the contributions of the previous generations. And we don’t invest enough to assuage the pain and suffering of those on the margins of society. We don’t invest enough in education and welfare programs.

My bet is that when the governor and the legislature reveal the details of their budget deal, they will have balanced the budget at the expense of those least likely to vote and to be heard from: the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill.

Here is what I am going to do. I am going to vote in favor of every tax increase that I can so that there will be more. I am writing my representatives to continue to push for more, not less, for those on the edge of making it—even if I have to pay more.

This is how we strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being—at least this day in California.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Bishop Mathes, for walking the walk, and for challenging complacency.

    Right before I read your blog, I read a horrifying story from Tennessee, where firefighters let a man's home burn because he hadn't paid a $75 fee for firefighting coverage.

    The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.

    Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

    The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.

    This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.

    Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

    All this, because of the "not with my money" attitude so prevalent in today's political discourse. And who cares for the least among us?

    Thank you for challenging us to walk the walk as well--even while knowing this message is not popular.