“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” — Dorothy, Wizard of Oz
While trickle-down economics sounds like the perfect plan in theory, the actual practice of passing down wealth to the poor hasn’t succeeded. In fact, because that theory was great only in theory, in this flailing economy, many rich are still rich and the line between the middle class and the poor gets thinner day by day.
While free enterprise and capitalism are the things that have made this country great, at the same time deregulation, tax cuts, low savings and spending in excess has gotten everyone into trouble. Because we weren’t living realistically within our means — many buying homes they couldn’t manage to pay for, spending money we didn’t have — we are now faced with what we can afford and what we can’t. We are officially in a recession and the casualties are piling up — layoffs, lessened job security, pay cuts. With less money being spent and fewer tax dollars being generated, our country, our state, our county and even our cities are facing major budget deficits. And in the City of Ventura, city employees are feeling the impact.
Although the city made some questionable financial moves last year, including giving firefighters raises and increased retirement benefits while our local unemployment rate continued to rise, the paradigm is certainly shifting. And it continued last week.
To their credit, city employees, including firefighters, police officers and non-union managers, agreed to take a pay cut. Union employees were also willing to negotiate a 5-percent pay cut across the board. In volunteering to take a pay cut, they are subsequently sending a message that it is better for everyone to shoulder the pain together.
Although it appears inevitable that some jobs will be cut, just as most other working entities have had to endure, people are coming together to help each other in this crisis.
Earlier this week, an inaugural fundraiser to prevent homelessness — One City, One Weekend, One Fund — brought in more than $10,000. Even when people have less to give, they make an effort to give what they can to help.
At a Ventura City Council meeting on Tuesday, the Mayor and City Council decided to move forward with the proposal of a half-cent sales tax measure that could make it on the ballot later this year. While many cringe at the thought of any additional taxes, such as Senator Tony Strickland, who is playing a role in holding up the passage of our state budget, we have to be realistic.
Taking pay cuts is one way to help each other. Making donations is also vital in assisting those who are facing crises. But increasing local taxes for local services, while a whole other ballgame, translates into helping ourselves, our neighbors and our communities.
We also hope, that pulling together through these tough times, that this trend continues in other ways — from banks working with borrowers, landlords with tenants, employers with employees. Working together and cutting costs as a whole will get us all safely through this.
We applaud the employees of the City of Ventura for working together and setting an example for all of us on how we can get through this. We also support a half-cent sales tax measure. Every drop counts during these crucial times and we hope that coming together for the sake of the greater good will continue.