Voting for dollars

by YES! Staff

In a capitalist society, we vote with our dollars.

Every day, when we fork over a few bucks for lunch, swipe our debit cards for tanks of gas or load up a cart of groceries, we make decisions based on value, convenience, quality and availability. Sometimes factors like principle or personal relationships or straight-up desire come into play — which is fine: It’s your money, and you get to spend it, more or less, the way you choose.

Of course, because we’re a capitalist society, some people get more votes than others in the marketplace, and there are many among us living so close to the bone that the only things they can vote for with their money is a something to eat and a place to live — and still others who must frequently make a choice between the two.

Still, every dollar spent is an endorsement for a product or service we think is worth spending money on. Likewise, everything we don’t buy sends the message that these things simply do not rate.

Every dollar spent is an endorsement for a product or service we think is worth spending money on

But the way you spend your money says an awful lot about you: your priorities, your values, the things you care about. Some people like to cook, so they push their money into food and kitchen utensils. Some rein in their food budgets to accommo date things like art, season tickets, designer clothing… things they prioritize more highly than anchovy paste.

And when we apply the formula to our government, we get a solid understanding of the things our elected officials think are important enough to fit into a budget.

The NC Senate introduced a budget proposal last week that should move through to the House by the end of the week, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, and a cursory glance at the numbers gives some insight into what this government deems important.

The $20.6 billion budget is a 2.3 percent increase from last year’s, but it also, according to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, sets up “the groundwork for the largest tax cut in state history.”

Tax cuts are great — at least, that’s what the GOP-led Senate believes. But in the zero-sum game of a budget, money spent or saved must come at the expense of something else.

The proposed budget de-emphasizes education, particularly early education, by lifting class-size limits on grades K-3. And it considers the realm of law enforcement worthy of tinkering by removing the State Bureau of Investigation out from under the purview of the attorney general’s office and into the hands of the Department of Public Safety, run not by an elected official but a political appointee — in this case Kieran Shanahan, appointed by Gov. McCrory earlier this year, who is also the principal of the Shanahan Law Group in Raleigh.

The budget paves the way for a privatization of Medicare and cuts out completely the Clean Water Management Fund. And it omits the $10 million Gov McCrory proposed in his budget for reparations to NC citizens who were sterilized by their own government without consent. In this budget, atonement for egregious wrongs is like anchovy paste.

This is how the people we elected choose to spend our dollars.

And it won’t be until November 2014 that the rest of us will be able to vote with our actual votes, and perhaps move to align the priorities in Raleigh more closely with our own.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .