Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pass the Ketchup and Praise the Admonition

Right now in Connecticut, the (Republican) Governor and the Democratic Legislature have yet to pass a state budget, try as they might (and some days, the finger pointing and the 'I know you are but what am I?' under-five behavior does get VERY trying) and because it's not happened, the 168 municipalities across The Nutmeg State have had to improvise (= roll the dice) on their own local budgets.

In a state that thinks of itself as "The Land of Steady Habits," and has two casinos that would seem to argue just the opposite, you'd assume we'd have developed a comfort level by now on the amount of Jell-O being used in the foundation of our soon-to-be-next fiscal year. (And why can't we be "The Land of Comfortable, but Casual, Footwear"?). So our elected and appointed local leadership, all talking about tightening belts and lowering expectations etcetera ad infinitum (or so it seems) have "austerity" budgets "because of The Economy" (or some variation thereof).

But budgets, like diets, have two sticky moments: the start and the end. When you're trying to lose weight, the first five pounds and the last five pounds are the hardest to lose. Those are the pounds you can't talk off, that you can't start losing tomorrow; they have to happen in the now. Of course, I suppose, you could always go the amputation route, and obviate the entire discussion and that, it seems to me, is what may have happened this year.

Instead of having a hoped-for (by me) discussion on what should (city) government do and how much of it should be done (and how do we measure that) , we tried a 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' approach which doesn't do much ultimately to get rid of any of those ten pounds (total) we were hoping to lose. The shock waves of discussion we've had, and are still having, over how classroom population size may change, how building fees will escalate, and what will happen to property taxes, have all obscured that discussion. Too bad because that means we'll have it again and again, with less and less patience for differing and dissenting viewpoints which brings us to debates involving balled fists and hurled invective. And those always work out so well.

We, and not just here but across the country, took a page from the (borrowed, and heavily) book of J. Wellington Wimpy 'I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today', had fries and a shake with that burger and then went back to the office and removed ALL the Tuesdays from our desk calendar. Just not forever. The trouble will come later on when both the calories and the deferred costs of that hamburger go right to our hips. Good thing we can't afford to buy new jeans because we sure as heck aren't going to fit into them. Which is just as well because you can already guess what's gonna look fat.
-bill kenny

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