Monday, November 23, 2009

A minor taxpayer revolt in Baja Arizona

"Espresso Pundit" Greg Patterson has a friend who asked around at a recent gun show to find out why TUSD budget overrides were voted down. The reported answer is somewhat surprising: not fiscal irresponsibility, not "secession" and frustration over having to pay when kids in their families don't go to public school, but rather the "La Raza Studies" program.

It seems completely lost on proponents of overrides, "home rule", and other fiscal laxity, that the relationship between the government and the governed, between the taxpayer and the tax spender, is one of give-and-take. It isn't symmetric, but the people have expectations of government--and they are right to have expectations of government. It is not sufficient for elected and appointed officials to have good intentions or to want to do Nice Things with the taxes collected; they must also deliver the goods, and respect the taxpayer.

In Pima County we're now learning the meaning of "consent of the governed". Teaching kids ethnic nationalism, group identity, that some people are better than others or otherwise "special" because their ancestors came from a certain place, or that there exists such a thing as group oppression, that's disrespect for taxpayers not from the elevated class. Likewise, manufacturing a "budget crisis" when there is a 1% revenue shortfall in order to justify tax increases, instead of cutting back the scope of city government, that's disrespect for the taxpayer. That's treating the interests of elected officials--those interests being re-election and supporting those niceties that have been added to the budget through the years--as more important than the interests of individual taxpayers. And asking--no, demanding!--constantly for more, more, more, out of proportion to population growth, is a disrespect of the voters.

The final results of this month's election (with irregularities presumably cleared up): defeat of "home rule", TUSD overrides, and even a few overrides in districts operating with overrides--a rare occurrence!--reflect nothing short of a loss of the consent of the governed. Rather than go on and on about how important education is (a non sequitur argument, really) those unhappy with the result ought to think: what's being done wrong? Should we try again or try another paradigm? And if we try again, how can we uphold our end of the bargain this time around?

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