Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Emotional Reasoning

As I drove home for lunch today, I remembered that I need to vote on Proposal 1. This immediately made me swear under my breath; then I had an “Aha!” moment.

The reason I was not excited about Proposal 1 echoes the concerns voiced by many, many people. We do not have much faith in our politicians, and we believe that they are lying about how they intend to spend our money. The only way to even put Proposal 1 together was to include “incentives” to the political parties. Many of us essentially want to vote “No” in order to punish our elected leaders for being, well, less than useless at their jobs. Our punishment is misplaced.

If I were to ask nobody in particular if a team has the potential to accomplish more than an individual, the answer would be “yes”. Part of what the State of Michigan provides is services to help the team (in this case, the entire state of Michigan). This is how we get fundamentally fantastic services like roads and schools. Our “team” also encourages business to come to the state, which leads to more jobs. Jobs, education, and infrastructure lead to better economic outcomes for our citizens.

So, what’s the problem with Proposal 1? We believe that it’s fundamentally unfair. But why is that a problem? Even if some of the money is used for tax breaks to companies, the outcome for the overall team is still positive. Even if only small portions of the money goes towards roads and schools, the overall outcome for the team is still better. Yes…we all have to pitch in more money than we do today, however in state-wide economic terms…most of the money will go toward the betterment of the state, albeit perhaps by diverse routes.

Should we punish our politicians? Absolutely! We should start by making the legislature part-time, so they have less incentive and less time to contrive work that needs to be done. But we should also acknowledge that the 2000s were a brutal decade for our state, and whether we like our politicians or not we still need an infusion of money to ensure that our core public services remain viable in the future.

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