Musings from George

Civic involvement
October 31, 2005, 6:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I spent a day working on a Habitat for Humanity site last week, one way of giving back to the community that I really enjoy. But wrapped around the happy day of volunteering was disappointment. I was asked by a leader to organize the day as a teambuilding event, and invited sixteen people. Eight said yes or maybe, and in the end several cancelled just before the event and only three of us actually went and volunteered. There is some level of civic involvement which pulls people in (perhaps if half of the community is involved or supportive?) and below which people can easily find an excuse to stay home.

I live in California (aye, pity me and envy me — both are appropriate, since it’s crowded and expensive but remains one of the prettiest places on earth) and we’re about to have a “special” election. We’ll spend $55M to vote on issues that any reasonable government should be able to decide, such as tenure guidelines for teachers and redistricting policies. Government is ineffectual, so they outsource to the voters anything that they can’t agree on — then they spend money advertising their points of view, hoping that the voters will accomplish what they don’t have the guts (or to quote W, “capital”) to accomplish. Sadly, about 38% of us will decide the issues for the government that was elected by about 50% of the voters. That’s what we can perhaps call “somewhat representative” government — the few of us that care will decide what the marginally representative government cannot, fo the many who don’t care and don’t vote.

Last tirade, I’m always surprised the schools have to pass bond issues and have been surprised when they fail. But fewer families have kids in some of our major cities than ever before, and everyone feels that their property taxes are too high already (we fund our schools that way in the Golden State). Why can’t schools borrow, like corporations do? aren’t they supposed to operate on a budget, and don’t they get income from the government? Fundraisers for a new slide / park I understand; bond issues for public schools seem odd. I vote for them anyway, and I really hope the world becomes a better place as an unrelated result.




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