In other words, government loves asking us to vote to approve other people’s wants through media-based propaganda onslaughts trying to show these things as must-haves. And when we don’t, the government forces us at the barrel of a gun to pay for these select wants anyway, just because a few more people voted yes.
So why is it the government uses the same tactics when it comes to providing crucial needs for its people, especially when it’s the government’s job?
As with all propaganda, a closer look is needed. Which is why I used the new community center as an example in my last column. And I didn’t even touch on the worst propaganda being used to pull on people’s heart strings to vote yes to approve the community center, as it would have been tasteless. But propaganda is at the heart of that ballot initiative. As all wants go, the government shouldn’t force some people to provide for the wants of others.
So how about a nutshell look at an actual community need like our police and fire protection and the ballot initiative for a tax increase for building and staffing new fire stations and monies for additional emergency and first-responder personnel. At its core, there’s no question this is something every citizen in the city would agree is indeed a need, not a want.
Two promotional campaigns have caught my attention over the past few weeks related to Measure 2B.
The first is a radio spot featuring a member of our city council. In this ad, the councilmember says her No. 1 priority is funding first responders, the safety of the people comes first and SWAT calls are up 250 percent — according to team members ot which she’s talked. OK, then. I agree wholeheartedly on the first two and have reservations on the validity of and strong opinions on the need for the last point.
So leaving out the fact that when a government entity pays for a tactical team it will deploy the tactical team simply because it has a tactical team to deploy, let’s look at the obvious answer to our councilmember’s conundrum. Budget for your priority from the millions you have in your budget. Take some of those record, extra, confiscated dollars to build the new, needed fire stations and hire the personnel needed to keep the public safe. I mean, it’s what citizens have to do, and that’s balance their budgets. Most of us don’t have record income to confiscate from. We have to cut costs and sometimes rearrange and prioritize our budgets — many times to pay your higher taxes. How about trying that?
The second campaign was a presentation by a group of first responders at a meeting I attended. There were so many situations occurring in their worst-case scenario, please forgive me if I found them sounding like a disaster movie from the 1970s.
You’re feeding your infant lunch when suddenly he begins to choke on his food.
As you try to help your child while calling 911, you forget you left food on the grill, which has now turned into a fire on your patio. Your child continues choking and you have to wait for an EMT because you live so far away from the nearest fire station. While all of this is happening, your husband who has been mowing the lawn grabs his chest with an apparent heart attack. Unbeknownst to you, all of the city’s fire and emergency personnel are busy battling the largest fire in the history of Grand Junction on the other side of town.
That’s literally how it sounded to me. I’m no way making light of anyone’s emergency situation. But seriously, can we not always go to the worst-case, fictional scenario?
I also must mention here that in no way am I saying we don’t need first responders. All cities and municipalities absolutely do. I admire all who choose as a career the courageous work these civil servants do. They run toward the danger while most, if not all of us, run from it. They are to be held in a place of honor when doing their job, knowing the ultimate sacrifice is a possibility each and every day they go to work. And I feel as strongly as anyone that every government entity must fund these departments as a priority. The safety of citizens comes first. Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction are no different.
But here’s the more likely scenario: ONE of the above actually occurs and, yes, the people experiencing the situation might live further away from a fire station than what would be optimum. That would indeed show a need for a new fire station. But as with our esteemed councilperson, the answer is the same. Budget monies out of your extra millions and build one.
Because the scenario I see most days is this: Our first responders have a
non-exciting day doing their training with no calls and city council decides ways to spend its millions in largess. Maybe these two can get together on a day like that and figure out a way to fund our community needs by building fire stations and hiring more personnel.
And that answer does not involve a new sales tax.