Alabama experiences lack of political wiggle room
December 10, 2012
There is a drought in Alabama. No, it is not a drought of rain and nutrients for our crops to grow, but a different kind of drought.Alabamais in an imagination drought, a drought of progressive minds with visions for a newAlabama.
It is not a secret that Alabama is full of problems. This can be found by driving across the state, and by asking citizens what the state motto is. Jokingly, nearly half of the people in this state will say, “Thank God forMississippi”. In reality, that slogan is not a joke. It appears when looking at the stats and rankings of lowest incomes, percentage of uninsured citizens, percentage of obese citizens and percentage of folks below the poverty line, the only place doing worse than us is that state tickling our Western border.
You cannot curse the darkness unless you have a light to replace it. What are we doing to replace this great darkness and gloom with good change, progress and light? The answer: debating whether Alabamians should or should not be able to carry guns into the workplace to bring “peace of mind” at work. It is truly unbelievable thatMontgomerydoes not see that we have bigger fish to fry.
We act like the issue of being able to bring a gun into work is the greatest hindrance on our economy and recovery. We act like there is not a $536 million structural deficit in the state. We act like there are not children inSouth Alabamawhose stomachs growl every night, yet we still find ourselves taxing the necessity of food. We do not bat an eye at the fact that Alabama is home to a few of the Top 100 in student loan debt, as we still tax those college students holding jobs while still in school. They make $6,000 and are still taxed on their incomes. We neglect the studies that show that what a state puts into their educational system and citizens directly results in the performance of those children and the state economy once that generation of children hold jobs in the real world.
We reject a lottery and gambling system to bring $700 million a year to the education fund that never would have been there before. We claim to be the most conservative and self-responsible state, however, when it actually comes time to take self responsibility to fund roads projects to keep our drivers safe, when it comes to making a decision to take a $10 increase on property taxes (which would still be ranked 50 if we doubled them) to ensure our students have access to textbooks, we tend to become much less self responsible. Those people become as rare as a nine dollar bill when the going gets tough. We wave our fists at the “horrid socialist acts” of the federal government, as we take in $150 for every $50 we pay in to that “elitist socialist” government.
We wonder why bipartisanship is dead, yet the political center is no man’s land. We wonder why nothing can get done in polarizedMontgomery, while those who disagree with the two parties on a certain issue are unable to express themselves, as they need many times more signatures to appear on the ballot in elections. Bipartisanship is dead in Montgomery because Republicans will never do the devil’s work of legalizing gambling to create a future for our educational system, and because Democrats pledge not to touch the natural gas reserves in the Tuscaloosa forests, while our companies still spend over twice as much a year on diesel as they would natural gas to fill their vehicles. As a matter of fact, it will not be long until regular vehicles are powered by natural gas. The average Alabamian family driving 10,000 miles a year could save as much as $1,400 a year from using natural gas instead of gasoline for fill ups. The natural gas issue inAlabamais the typical, “Mom, if you had my brother and I hanging on a cliff and you could only save one, who would you save?” The same can be said here. Do we save a tree or a household by letting natural gas prosper in the state. The folks that pick the tree floor me. While natural gas is not the final destination to our green future, it is the bridge we can build to it.
We expect a new result from doing the same things over and over again. Our ideas stem from the logic of being able to use 19th Century solutions for 21st century problems. Even with all of this, I knowAlabama can. While others see an impossible mountain to climb, I see progress to be made. I look out from the top of that mountain and see more Alabamians able to afford health insurance due to the reforms discussed earlier. I see a fantastically funded educatioaln system soar up the rankings, producing more prepared scholars than ever before, where an education obtained in Magic City is just as valuable as one obtained in Michigan, Munich or Madrid. I see business thriving from being able to take advantage of a new era of energy inAlabama, while being able to hire more and more workers. I see our safe infrastructure being not only the marvel of the Southeast, but the nation as a whole. I see anAlabama where we unite our citizens economically before we divide them socially. We choose fellowship over feuding as we did in the Populist days of Big Jim Folsom and crew. I see an Alabama with so much potential.
And then I wake up from my nap and continue to live on in the one we have now. One day I would like to translate what I see in those dreams for the state into cold hard realities, ending the vision drought and many of our state’s problems.