Forecaster Forum: The view from the Falmouth rabbit hole
What a relief to read last week's "Taxes unchanged under Falmouth budgets." Kudos to our town manager and all who helped. I hope they continue the practice. Such efforts just may haul us out of the rabbit hole I feel we've fallen down.
A thrifty Yankee upbringing has always persuaded me, a lifelong Democrat, that (to turn a Founding Father's phrase) debt, if excessive, will be to us a curse. To me, at $11 trillion and climbing, we've achieved national curse status. With the state more than $900 million in debt, I feel the same, especially since the default method of financing each new budget seems more "bond-age" than beneficial to my child's future.
Voters and now even corporate CEOs, like children, shamelessly want Uncle Santa (or state elves) to give them everything they ask for, whether they deserve it or not. Worse yet, those with the most influence over Santa and the elves are having their way. What amount of stimulus money will save us from systemic self-indulgence gone wild? Collective posturing and empty promises made in hindsight don't relieve voters and their elected officials of the larger responsibility to uphold constitutional law, basic ethics and capitalist standards more than give in to avaricious, hedonistic and puerile socio-economic and political trends, which seem to dominate our culture these days.
It remains to be seen what stimulus money will accomplish, but certainly I've heard little about safeguards to ensure that the U.S. will not return to the brink of market collapse again. How did we get here in the first place? I'm not sure that's even been made clear.
So, due to the above, I found my big-picture mind wandering while seated at the Falmouth Facilities Community Planning Event. Like Alice at tea with the Mad Hatter, it seemed the general gist was: "Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"
I am so grateful to be invited to the party to vote and be part of "the process." And I did vote my wish list, all the while unconvinced of Falmouth's timing. Everything is like it is right now, not what we wish it to be in five years, never mind 50. I would love nothing more than a relocated town office and library and a new pool and new community center (and so I voted for my "nice-to-have" wish list). But these are certainly not necessities in the broader scheme of where the state should spend its bondaged monies in the next three to five years.
The Mad Hatter says, "You can always take more than nothing." I'm inclined to answer "Take nothing more than you can afford today" (a neutral town budget) until the heavy fog still suppressing my individual retirement account lifts and I have a stronger sense that the state and national governments can accommodate my wish lists without negative consequences to more needy communities today and my child 50 years from now.
Lisa Preney lives in Falmouth.