I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but in Rhode Island, some refer to the political season as “Silly Season”. And with good reason, I might add, although “Stupid Season” might be a more apropos title. I hear a lot of promises and a lot of obvious problems pointed out; what I don’t hear are a lot of plans. Or any plans. We have one person telling us we “need to build our infrastructure” while another insists we have to foster a partnership between the State’s schools and employers. Okay, those make nice sound bites, but what I want to hear from the candidates is how they propose these things be accomplished. Crickets.
I have a few plans. They might work, they might not, but at least they’re something more than “we need to…” with no action steps attached.
Everyone knows public assistance programs are completely out of control. My plan? Everyone who is on assistance and is able to work, should. We could revise Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which was established with passage of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act (1935). I would say we have an emergency in this state, wouldn’t you. Here’s my plan:
Let the people who stay home instead of working fix the roads, pick up litter, fix bridges, maintain public properties, clean the beaches and run the parking concession (which is currently run by a Connecticut company that’s made millions off the contract; that money could have stayed in RI),etc. Pay them with their welfare “benefits”. Obviously, they would, for the most part, serve on crews with qualified State employees; I’m not suggesting we hand out a bunch of tools to people who don’t know the difference between a pothole and a bridge abutment and send them out on their own. And while we’re at it, no more ice cream, chips, soda, etc. on food stamps. Use a system like the old WIC vouchers, where the coupons were good for specific items (milk, bread, cheese, etc.). The new system doesn’t have to be quite as restrictive, but junk food, etc, is not a right, it’s a privilege. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. And, if someone else is paying for your food, you can’t afford it. Just like cell phones. Since when is a cell phone an absolute necessity? We all got along just fine without them for years and years. There’s no reason the government should be handing out cell phones at taxpayer expense.
And, before anyone tells me that a lot of people on assistance don’t have/can’t afford daycare so they can’t work outside the home, I have one thing to say: Bull. Obviously, the state owns lots of empty buildings, since our governor seems Hell-bent on finding room for a bunch of illegal alien kids; turn some of those into day care centers; the parents can run the daycare. Simple? Yes. Responsible? Yes. Likely to happen under the current climate in the state? Hell, no! But, it’s a viable solution. I have first-hand knowledge of the abuses that go on in the welfare system. I don’t have a problem with people who need assistance getting it, but they shouldn’t spend all day every day sitting on the front steps of their subsidized apartments smoking cigarettes (at $8 per pack) and drinking beer, joy riding, smoking pot, getting tattoos, etc. There’s no reason they shouldn’t work for the money we, the taxpayers, give them. The taxpayers work for their money; so should every able-bodied welfare recipient. We’ve created a climate where welfare/food stamps has become a “career”. It’s not and was never intended to be that. It was intended as a helping hand until you got back on your feet.
Campaign reform is another pet peeve of mine. Between the half-truths, outright lies, and staged family outings, I want to puke. One candidate using a derisive term for his opponent’s supporters? Seriously? I hear lots of grandiose pronouncements, but no substance, no solutions. Here’s my plan:
1. Determine a set amount that can be spent by any candidate. No more having the rich candidates flood their own campaigns with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their personal fortunes, which sets up a climate in which only rich candidates can win.
2. A limit on what any one person or company can donate. $100. Anyone caught violating this law would be subject to severe penalties, up to and including jail time. See how many people have the guts to violate once a handful are locked up.
3. A limit of 2 TV commercials. And to avoid the inevitable “I didn’t get to respond to what he/she said in their commercial” whining, all commercials will be released on the same day at the same time. Two rounds, two commercials. Done.
4. A limit on mailings. Similar to the TV limit, but less restrictive. 5 mailings, done whenever the candidate sees fit.
5. Claims will have to be vetted by a State board before any information can be used in a commercial or any type of advertising. I know, the last thing we need is another State board, but I don’t think it would be difficult to find more than enough volunteers to staff it.
Since the State is in such dire financial straits, I would have police in all cities and towns compile a listing of all the Florida license plates that are being used on cars here. It’s no secret that tons of people live part of the year here and part in Florida and register their cars there for the tax benefits. No more. If you live in Rhode Island 6 months per year (or 3, or 9, or 7), you pay a pro-rated property tax. Why should these people -who are wealthy enough to afford not 1, but 2 homes, not have to pay any property taxes? It’s not fair to the rest of us. They’re using the same roads as us, aren’t they? But only we are paying for them.
I’m sure if I give it more thought, I can come up with plenty more ideas, but this is what came to mind when I decided to write this piece.
You can agree with me, disagree with me, love me, hate me, but, if you choose to respond to this, please don’t resort to name-calling (of me or any of the aforementioned groups). Let’s keep it classy. Thanks.