Talk About Taxation Without Representation
Would the nation's founders have imagined a $4.1 trillion national debt?
Ahh ... the Fourth of July! In 1776, our Founding Fathers declared independence from the British monarchy and an end to "taxation without representation." Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, Thomas Jefferson and company might be less than thrilled knowing the government of the nation they founded is piling $4.1 trillion of new debt on its citizens over the next decade—an obligation for every American of about $37,450.
Maxing out the national credit card undercuts that whole "no taxation without representation" concept, because a lot of people who aren't born yet will be stuck with the tab. In this sense, it's pretty clear that (to paraphrase the words of Whitney Houston) children really are our future ... even though we're starting theirs off deep in red ink.
Additionally—given the federal government's current spending and tax patterns—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and payments on the national debt will devour the entire federal budget by 2030. While it's a novel way to downsize the various branches of government (departments of defense, education, HUD, transportation, etc., ... gone!), there is a faint whiff of the Titanic to it.
This Enron-style debacle (but on a much larger scale) is only 26 years away, but that's an eternity in politics. Don't expect any real effort to head it off until the last possible minute. Prince once sang we should "party like it's 1999." Little did his royal badness know he was just 30 years off the mark.
In the meantime, grill a hot dog and have a cold one. The following are a few other random observations on the show that never ends.
In the Land of Mañana, don't hold your breath
A couple of weeks ago, the 1998 report from the state's Department of Public Safety alleging illegal drug use by local district court judges and defense attorneys was the talk of the town—with the exception of those inhabiting the artificially created environment of the Journal Center Biosphere. As of this writing last week, no follow up has been done to determine if the report was accurate or to release the innards to the public.
New Mexico's brilliant legal minds strike again
Judge William Lang, who recently replaced John Brennan as chief judge of the state District Court after Brennan's arrest for DWI and cocaine possession, did announce his intention to get right to the bottom of the 1998 report—ASAFP. Lang took a different approach though: He wasn't so much concerned with whether the allegations were true or not—the new chief justice wanted to know who leaked the damned report in the first place.
Speaking of leaking, your Honor
Ned Fuller and Paul Barber, Republican nominees for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, respectively, voluntarily submitted themselves for urinalysis. Both tests came back negative for any illegal drugs, although it is rumored Fuller may be several months pregnant.
Present company excluded, of course
City Council President Michael Cadigan introduced legislation declaring Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) an act of "baseness, vileness and depravity" and called on the state Legislature to "affect" any state employee convicted of DWI. According to Cadigan, "affect" could mean anything from a letter in the employee's personnel file to termination from state employment.
No word on how Cadigan's legislation would affect his council colleagues Tina Cummins and Eric Griego as both first-term councilors have been cited for DWI.
Who wants to watch horse racing at a racetrack anyway?
In a highly controversial ruling, the New Mexico Racing Commission made horse racing in New Mexico analogous to hockey in the late '70s when fighting on the ice was so prevalent it was joked that occasionally a game would break out.
To the anger of many area horse breeders, the commission limited the number of racing days in 2005 at state racetracks; so for example, a place that calls itself The Downs at Albuquerque will have a whopping 47 days of horse racing over the course of the year. Meanwhile, the slot machines at the Downs' casino will run from noon to midnight every day including Christmas.
And finally ... there's plenty of room over here!
Members of the APS School Board met last week to tackle the very difficult subject of student overcrowding in Westside schools. Three members of the public showed up.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Payne, a former city councilor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.