From Thursday, August 27th to Sunday, August 30th, 2009, I attended the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ (NCACC) annual conference in Hickory, North Carolina. I try to attend these conferences, whenever possible, for a variety of reasons, most notable of which is: The networking with other commissioners to gain a wider perspective on how to accomplish a more proficient governing process. I know it sounds like an oxymoron to include the words proficient and governing in the same sentence, but I am an optimist, and I wouldn’t have spent 13 years as a county commissioner if I did not think the proposition possible.
Comissioner Deatherage representing Beaufort County at the NCAA Legislative Conference in Raleigh, January, 2009.
To that end, I endeavor to learn from those commissioners that have good ideas as well as the commissioners that have bad ideas. My years of experience affords me the insight to know the difference, almost immediately (within a matter of minutes), which ideas will make well considered, pragmatic policy for governing, and which will not. This presents me the opportunity to virtual governing, as if it was a computer game, without having to put into practice poorer considered, untried policies. All new good governing practices are born from innovative ideas. The trick is seeing far enough ahead to realize the benefits versus the costs.
When I attended the NCACC’s Business Session on Saturday, as Beaufort County’s voting delegate, I was intrigued to hear Sonoma County, California, Supervisor Valerie Brown, the NACo (National Association of Counties) president, speak to that North Carolina assembly of commissioners about two pertinent issues germane to all levels of governing (counties, states and federal): Cap and Trade as an answer to solve global warming and Health Care Reform as an answer to Universal (Government Run) Health Care. Supervisor (which is the same as a North Carolina county commissioner, just much better paid) Brown did not fully express that she was in favor of Cap and Trade and Government Run Health Care, but she intimated that they were the most viable options to remedy either conundrum.
Supervisor Brown, advocating a greening of America, stated, “People between 20 and 40 years of age will expect that politicians consider the air resources, water resources and the natural resources and that they replenish and maintain those resources for future
generations.” I absolutely agree with Supervisor Brown. I also believe that we should have better educational opportunities for our children and world peace. In a perfect world these futile wishes would all be possible.
We do not, however, live in a perfect world. We live in a world of limitations. We are limited by what we, as a governed people, can afford, but moreover we are limited by our imaginations. The financially strapped state of California, Supervisor Brown’s home state, is a fine example of that grim reality that the government and its people cannot be hastily remade without going broke. California is the most progressive state in the United States, and it is broke. Currently the state of California is being subsidized by the kindness of taxpayers from the other less progressive portions of the United States
California has long been on the leading edge of forcing automakers to provide zero emissions vehicles. The state has also promoted that regions of the state pass overlay emissions controls, with state government having the responsibility to certify these individual regulations by their over 400 and counting smog inspection stations spread throughout the state. The management of these regulations has become new profitable industry for the state government and ancillary private businesses.
The regulations have, however, cost the automakers any measure of profit for their California distribution outlets, while forcing California citizens to pay more per auto unit than any other state in the union. Due to these additional overlay regulations, the state’s oil refiners are forced to charge much more for their finished product, which causes the drivers of California’s highways to pay more for gas than any other state. Exporting California’s political and environmental philosophies to rest of the nation, in the form of Cap and Trade laws, legislated by the Democrat controlled United States Congress might not be a good idea at this time, as the national regional economies struggle to earn their way out of this recession - the deepest and most damaging since World War II. One must be concerned; if the United States Congress adopts California style environmental policy; how much longer can the rest of the taxpayers of the United States subsidize the state of California?
Cap and Trade regulatory authorities’ desire to emulate the state of California‘s government, will allow their legislatively created carbon emission credits to be traded on an open market, thereby creating additional costs to large and small businesses, while providing opportunity to others; usually businesses friendly to whatever government that is in charge - most probably Democrats. Many Educators, all sympathetic to progressive policies such as California’s, will endeavor to indoctrinate their students that government can and should save our planet’s ecological environment in every manner possible. The government’s development of carbon credits will be at the point of that spear.
Many young students, fresh from their indoctrination, will continue to take long hot showers, will continue to leave lights on when they leave the room or return from being outside at night, and when they can find the time, from their incessant traveling of our highways to continue their grand social experiment, many will express, in some form of condescension, that we should all care more about “saving the planet.” My whole Cap and Trade fear is that the twin devils of educators further indoctrinating children to the point of a new hypocrisy and the creation a two classes of people: those that are directly or indirectly abused by Cap and Trade policy, and those that profit from its creation.
When I heard Supervisor Brown’s aforementioned comments, “People between 20 and 40 years of age will expect that politicians consider the air resources, water the natural resources … etc.,” I considered the majority of those youngsters, wrapped up tight in a conundrum they can’t possibly fathom, with little help from the educators of environmental zealotry. And then I remembered the many, but more rare collection of our youth that are curious, but stable in their ability to reconcile the diversity between fact and fiction, and with the new Cap and Trade regulations, there will be copious quantities of both disseminated by all interested parties. These young people will be our best hope to lead us, our species, as we deepen our path into the into the 21st century.
Presently, however, the “save the planet at all costs” contingency of California has been an abysmal failure. California is broke and getting broker, while their San Fernando Valley farmers go without water so that an inconsequential species of fish, in the Colorado River, may survive. Sadly, many of these farmers will not. Until a pragmatic path can be followed to achieve ecological stewardship, the exportation of impractical California values as environmental policy for the United States will be as big a failure, as the state that all hardworking taxpayers must now subsidize as dictated by the current administration. Until I begin to hear practicable plans for manageable ecological policy, I will pay no heed to messengers like Supervisor Brown.
Closer to home, here in Beaufort County, we were bereft of any logical purpose from the environmental zealots that wanted to stop the future mining of phosphate ore, by Potash Corporation (PCS), on lands that were earlier approved by all regulatory authorities from the many various state and federal agencies. The path to this approved status by the federal regulatory and state authorities such as: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fisheries & Wildlife, and the North Carolina Coastal Area Management. This negotiated approval for these future grounds of their (PCS‘s) largest mine, from the many authorities, took over eight years, and a small fortune in the payment of fees to regulatory agencies, and moreover, to consultants and engineers.
Regardless of the all these regulatory approvals, Senator Obama was elected, giving all extreme liberals hope, and with the EPA being a pseudo political, as well as a regulatory agency, there was obviously much comfort given to those folks who would close down the world … to save it. In Beaufort County, closing the PCS mine and production facility would have cost Beaufort County the better part of 1,100 good paying jobs and over 20 % of Beaufort County’s tax base. Factor in another estimated 600 foreclosures in a county of 46,000, with much of the loss of those accompanying property tax payments, and the “save the planet” blather becomes somewhat trite and rather sad.
Supervisor Brown’s other issue was that counties should take a position in the imminent change in the delivery of health care services. She used a quote by Republican Pollster Frank Lutz to broaden her message of change, “People need to be vocal and passionate about their opinions - but they need to be positive and recommend some plan for some direction in a collective future.”
As a county commissioner, I agree with Supervisor Brown and Frank Lutz regarding the issue that there should be some change in the delivery of medical care in our nation, as well as passionate discussion as to how to achieve that transition. The problem I have with the ultra liberals; Nancy Pelosi wing of democrats, that control congress, is that they will pursue only the options that best serve their base of voters, which would, along with other unwise legislation such as the “stimulus package,” bankrupt our nation.
To date a great deal of passion has erupted on all sides of the issue. It would be prudent to slow the process down so that better decisions can be made, and wise legislation, if any, enacted.
This is what I support. Not the California brand of governing that has bankrupted that state’s government, along with much of its health delivery service. As I sift through the wreckage of Supervisor Brown’s California government, I recognize that the State of California is a fine example … of what not to do. “Prudence should supervise all decisions and haste shall be our enemy.” This is my opinion on how we should manage our future. Spending time with other governing officials only strengthens my dictates in governing Beaufort County.