Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nanny State


As I have noted before, I love my home state. But our elected representatives make me sad.

Californians Getting 725 New Laws in 2011

The state is what, 20-some billion dollars in the red, and Sacramento had time for those? C'mon, now. Some of these laws might be seen as admirable goals for society, but I see it more as needless government meddling, hampering free enterprise, which will throw yet more cold water on our economy, reducing state revenues even further. The legislature ought to be drastically slashing budgets, but nope, they're creating new expenses, by writing new laws to be enforced. I have a real big problem with the one that allows the state to fine and/or imprison the parents of kids who miss over 10% of the school year without a valid (define "valid?") excuse. Because having a parent in prison is really good for the growth of kids into responsible adults. Because the number of Californians in prison isn't obscene enough, yet. Because the prisons themselves have room to spare. Because sticking the poor families that I suspect will most likely run afoul of this stupid law with a $2000 fine will really help our economy, and their prospects.

Rather than such reactionary, punitive measures, the state ought to be reforming the educational system so that it better reflects the real needs of modern families, particularly the students themselves. Local school districts ought to be given more control over their own policies, so they can work with families more closely and thus effectively. I think that many people are disheartened by what they see as a bloated edu-bureaucracy, which caters more to the interests of the public employees and their unions, than to their children. I know that I certainly percieve it that way. From my own experience in the system, I got the impression that the focus was on passing unchallenging fill-in-the-bubble tests, so the school could get more money from the government, rather than helping my peers and myself grow into knowledgeable, talented, and responsible adults. Sure, there are AP classes, and plenty of driven, motivated students to fill them, but those are definitely not the majority.

A big part of the problems in the system is that many of the kids who grew up in a dysfunctional system are now parents of kids now in the same, more dysfuntional system. I see a vicious cycle of complacency forming there. Much as I want the system to be better, It just cannot happen unless the values of the families in the system become better. Most of the best-performing students (across the nation, not just here) come from cultural backgrounds that strongly emphasize personal achievement through motivated study, rather than leisure and government dependency.

I really hope the people of my state see what's happening, soon, and toss out every member of the state Senate and Assembly. These "leaders" have let the power get to their heads. There is no aspect of society they think they can't regulate. They seem to think that the 120 of them know better than any of us how our 37 million lives should be managed. We send them to Sacramento to manage the affairs of the state, not to manage us. I love my state. But our government is giving people fewer and fewer good reasons to live and do business here. I don't wan't to leave all the natural beauty and culture behind, but I have to ask myself, when it's time for me to start a family, will my children be better served growing up under this increasingly restrictive system, or in a more austere, but more free land like Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, or Montana? That weighs heavily on my mind. Does our government understand how it and the people of this state are seen by the rest of the union? We are mocked, laughed at. They hope we break off at the faultline and float out to sea (a notion I can't help but roll my eyes at). This is supposed to be the Golden State, the crown jewel of America! These days, though, it seems like we're becoming the Mediocre State.

***As a side note, I'd like to suggest that the state would be far better served by greatly expanding the size of the Assembly itself, so that each assembly member would have a much smaller constituency (and thus a smaller staff, and smaller fundraising requirements), to which they are more accountable. Harder to gerrymander the districts that way, too, I think. There is a reform proposal floating around the internet to do the same to the federal House of Representatives, a notion I wholeheartedly endorse:***

Also, there's a possibility I'll be heading into Downtown LA on Monday, so I'll be able to post some new pix of the city on Tuesday. If I don't make it down there, I'll still be sure to post some of my existing shots from around LA county.

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