There appears to be a trend within our generation in regard to the perception of the US government, local, state and federal. It goes without saying that we feel like we can’t trust our government. Recall annual tax season and dreadful mandatory visits to the DMV, we’d rather not bother with it. This has been on my mind for quite some time but recently I was having a conversation with some friends about immigration. Among all of us we could not fathom why it’s so hard to gain citizenship in this country. Especially since this country was built on the back of immigrants. I couldn’t help to notice that a few of my friends chose to shutdown, blame the government and refuse to have anything to do with it. Comments were made such as, “the government is terrible” and “this is why I don’t vote”. While I am able to empathize with these opinions, I feel this way of thinking is not very helpful to the progression of our society.
My point is as much as we don’t want to have anything to do with our government, we can’t just throw our hands up and turn the other way. If we are truly fed up, we must fight fire with fire and revolutionize. We are the generation to lead the world to social justice as long as we stay motivated. That being said, how can we do this and what makes a government great at their job?
The Importance of Local/State Government
Check out Good Governance Guide to read detailed information on the characteristics and methods of a good government. While this in fact is an Australian based website, I believe the ideas presented are useful for any governed nation. The key points associated with good governance are: (1) transparency within the policy process and (2) legislation must be created with the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in the community in consideration. In order for us as a community to ensure that our local, state and federal government are practicing good policy we need to be aware of who we place in office and be more present in general. With this in mind, I want to present two examples that demonstrate poor public policy and our inability to participate in the political process. Here’s governing gone bad:
- Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana Purchase
In 2008, Bobby Jindal was sworn into office as the governor of Louisiana. At that point in time, Louisiana had a surplus of $1 billion and by the end of Jindal’s two terms, Louisiana’s economy is at a $1.6 billion deficit. It is so bad that Jindal’s successor, John Bel Edwards (democrat), came forth with a public service announcement (video below) expressing how detrimental this situation is. A lot of public services may be defunded and not available. What gets me the most is the possible shut down of state universities and colleges. Children and young adults are paying the price of Jindal’s financial irresponsibility. Jindal gets to leave office while the state and the people are left suffering and scurrying to find ways to alleviate this problem. Furthermore, I was surprised that while researching this particular issue there was not a lot of information out there. You would think this epidemic would be everywhere being that Jindal attempted to run for president.
- Flint Michigan – The Water
CNN’s Sara Ganim explains the story behind the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
I cannot begin to express how devastating the Flint water crisis is. The people should be able to trust their local/state government when it comes to the basic necessities of life. Unfortunately, in Genesee county, Michigan it is not the case. Due to lack of transparency and the inability of the local and state government to inform their residents of possible contaminants within the water, families are suffering throughout the county. In addition, the government officials absolutely disregarded the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in the city, that being children (6,000-12,000 exposed). The state’s decisions will affect these people for the rest of their lives.
I will briefly explain the aspects surrounding the crisis, likewise, I will provide links with more detailed information. The water crisis in Flint, MI is a contamination of “treated” water. The city of Flint changed their water source from Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) to Flint River. The water tested at the Flint Water Plant showed acceptable low levels of contamination. However, once the water traveled through the pipes into homes and buildings the water was in fact contaminated due to corrosion within the pipes which caused lead to leak into the water. This began as early as April 2014. Flint returned to DWSD as a water source in October 2015, however so many residents have been affected that Michigan has been in a state of emergency since January 5, 2016. Naturally, the people have a right to know who’s responsible and hold them accountable. This is an on-going investigation and thus far, four government officials have resigned and one has been fired.
To sum this up, it’s important to point out that both governors, Snyder and Jindal, attempted to save money without taking into consideration the impact it would have on their community. In fact, these poor choices resulted in the state having to spend even more money, as well as asking the federal government to bail them out. Furthermore, this is an eye-opener to the fact that we were right about not trusting our government and with this in mind we should not look the other way but in fact be present within the governmental process.
We can do this by participating in town hall meetings, visiting our local public office and just by simply doing research on our community leaders. In addition, some local offices have incorporated online participation in the form of public opinion surveys and live web-streamed meetings for our convenience. Here is a link to retrieve contact information for state and local government.
HELP for FLINT
Community Foundation of Greater Flint
Help Louisiana GoFundMe