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Rural Missouri Magazine

Our political will

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

As I write this column, the news headlines declare the recall of the governor of California. They also announce the election of a new governor who has no plan to remedy the budget problems that triggered the recall! From the outside, it looks like the people of California have once again opted for a “no-pain” solution to problems that will require sacrifice to remedy. The voters seem to lack the political will to come to grips with their problems.

We don’t defend the recalled governor of the Golden State. We who watched him shape the California electric utility deregulation plan had already questioned his credentials. After watching him patch together the remedy for his deregulation train wreck, we considered ourselves lucky to live in a state safe from its impending consequences.

As we observe the politics of California, we can’t help but ponder the politics and the political will of other states with budget problems. If California is in terrible financial shape, how did it get there? Those who live there tell us their budget problems grew big because they failed to deal with them when they were small.

The lack of political will can get a state into budget trouble quicker than a cat can wink. A harbinger of growing budget problems is the reaction of an elected official who, when asked how to remedy a problem, will respond by pointing a finger of blame at someone else.

Another indicator of an impending political train wreck is the careless use of petition governance. The abuse of legislation by petition will happen if voters fail to support elected officials willing to deal with unpopular issues in a timely manner. Trying to solve complicated budget deficits through “sounds good” ballot measures often serves to accelerate the problem. Again, we can look to California for some recent examples of how not to govern through petition.

But let’s quit picking on California. Instead, let’s wish them our very best and hope that the course of action they have chosen will turn out to be the right one. Let us pray that they can balance their budget with their latest venture into painless remedies. Goodness knows, the 47 states facing growing deficits would welcome and quickly adopt a “no pain” plan tried and proven in California.

An alternative course of action may be to: 1. Admit to having a budget problem, 2. Everyone accept some of the blame, 3. Adopt bipartisan remedies for a balanced budget, 4. Gather the political will of the voters and 5. Get on with it!

Our dictionaries define the word “will” as the power of making reasoned choice. I couldn’t find a definition for “lack of will.” I may need to refer to the “D” section and look under disaster.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

 

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