Well, OK. So that's my jaundiced opinion these days. Maybe you disagree. It wasn't so long ago that I'd have been right in there with you.
But in that distant world where the real games are played, what passes for politics on the street is little more than toys for tots. True power in America these days is concentrated in the working partnership between large corporate interests and government. If the parties compete for anything, it is to be the beneficiary of the kinds of largess we see doled out in Sacramento to pay-to-play legislators willing to get into the game. Our fine elected officials finding the attentions of lobbyists and those who employ them to be far more rewarding than anything we might have to offer.
In the grand scheme of things voters have become little more than a cyclical marketing challenge. And if you've some political products to sell you're going to have to come up with the proper marketing to move it. The $100s of millions of corporate dollars spent by the major parties every election has precious little to do with any desire to communicate real issues or down home truths. Rather it is to create images that resonate with consumers. People who will then pay with their votes to feel a part of the products that best reflect their closely held illusions of how the world works.
A very interesting editorial entitled "Tell The Truth About The Drought" graced the pages of the SGV Tribune this Sunday. The usual gatekeepers must have been off at an art show with Larry or something. Nibbling cheese and sipping a favored vintage.
The piece begins quietly enough. Apparently the three year drought that has beset California is over. Or at least that is what the science and numbers show. Rainfall during the now concluding wet season was actually above average. Things are better than they have been for a while. Pretty good news that you might not have been aware of. I don't recall having heard about it myself.
Yet Sacramento hasn't said anything about this return to water normalcy. Instead the steady drumbeat of drought, devastation, and water conservation continues to be heard. Not that there is anything wrong with water conservation, mind you. We shouldn't be wasting our precious natural resources. But could it be there is an ulterior motive here as well? One that has more to do with the political marketing we've been talking about than the truth? Here's is how The Tribune put it:
Could all these (state) agencies be keeping quiet about the abundance of rain, the healthy snowpack and the rising levels of water in the state's reservoirs because they're trying to sell the public the $11.1 billion water bond that's before the voters in November? Having a drought makes it more saleable.
Of course, that would be playing politics with the facts, though it would hardly be shocking, coming from state politicians who also use the poor and indigent as pawns during budget time.
Perhaps it's too harsh to say they're lying. It's more as if they're treating the public like children, believing, as Jack Nicholson's stout movie Marine colonel would say, they "can't handle the truth." With all due respect to Jack, that's the wrong approach.
One of the things I've noticed lately is just how closely the policies of our new City Council are aligned not only to state political marketing themes, but those of Washington as well. What begins as a national initiative for "Transit Oriented Development," revealed as SB 375 here in California, filters down to our local level as various regional so-called sustainable green initiatives. Most of which are paradoxically linked to high-density infill redevelopment as favored by our beloved Downtown Investors Club.
And, of course, President Obama has employed the word "civility" for as long as Joe Mosca has.
So would it be too much to say that much of the water panic coming out of City Hall in support of their unpopular water rate hike is just an echo of the similar message being put out by Sacramento to prop up their $11.1 billion water initiative?
There are a lot of inspired people who write in on an almost daily basis with ideas for this blog. Here is an e-mail that I received yesterday:
This is the clue you need to show that the City is not serious about its compliance with the RHNA figures. How can you set up low-income housing when your water bill is sky high? What low-income family is going to voluntarily move into a place with a water bill that is nearly half the value of their rent?
Food for thought.