The East County Observer may have made a big mistake. I’ve been asked to pen an occasional guest editorial.
At first, I wanted to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I think about how I feel when my wife, Fran, says, “We need to talk.” Like most men, I cringe inside when I hear these words. However, after we talk, more often than not, she was right. We did need to talk, and it was for the better that we did — even if the conversation wasn’t always pleasant.
I’ve reconsidered because I think that there are some serious issues that need discussing and The Observer reaches a wide audience of citizens who can actually think. So, to steal a phrase that I hear often enough: We need to talk.
What about? Let me throw a few topics on the stack that I’d like to discuss in future epistles.
• Stop vilifying business while worshipping government. Neither monopolizes morality or evil. Your “201K” is made up of shares of businesses, which have been devalued by government incompetence and private-sector stupidity. Your sacred Social Security is not in a trust fund. It is stolen and spent each and every day and replaced with IOUs. Government as the sole solution is less of a solution than it is a problem.
• To keep your taxes down, don’t stop private-sector growth. Stop the growth of government. Taxes have climbed not because of adding new homes but because shortsighted constituents and equally myopic leaders who have continued to increase the scope of government. Many of these additions were “nice,” but few were truly necessary. Solving problems with your own money is compassion. Solving problems with someone else’s money is theft, if carried to extremes. Both counties still do not understand the threat of “scope creep” to the average taxpayer, and the citizens in general understand it even less.
• We need rules, but we need them to be fair, not overreaching, and above-all, predictable. Good long-term investment, like nature, abhors the vacuum of unpredictability and capriciousness.
• The question is not whether we change but rather how we change. We need to see that not all civic activists wear the mantle of Captain Planet. Many are little more than small-thinking, Lilliputian, change-phobic Luddites who have never saved a tree and who work feverishly to maintain a status quo that never existed in a universe that mandates change. The Captain Planet mantle is a disguise, not a uniform.
• We need to support policies that make sense both today and tomorrow. That may require holding to principle in the face of short-term pressure. For example, we should fairly assess and collect impact fees as growth happens. Granted, these fees grew way out of hand in the boom times, but forgiving them entirely is bad policy and will hobble our future.
• Economic development is the only way to play the bad hand that this economy has dealt us all, and we are not serious enough about it. Each day, families face stark choices between bad alternatives, and it has been this way for more than four grueling years. Enough is enough. We need bold incentives that go beyond the local “incentives,” which are little more than trivia, and the “three card Monty” of Tallahassee-crafted incentives that look good on paper but, like water in the desert, shift away as you approach. I propose a tax increment financing concept for new and expanding businesses that would be a truly meaningful incentive.
So, I’ll be governed by your wishes: If you’d like to talk, I’ll be back.
Rex Jensen is president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.