wants millions of Californians to take time out of their hectic, busy lives and stand in line
to vote for her. Unfortunately, in her entire life, Ms. Whitman has never voted for or against
anyone. When reporters asked her about her voting record during the GOP state convention,
she admitted her sorrow in never having actually voted in her entire life. When questioned
about this most basic of civic duties, she had no comment except to claim she had registered
to vote in 1998 (a claim that couldn't be supported). When pressed about why in the last
thirty plus years she had never felt motivated to vote on issues such as Iraq, terrorism,
September 11th, Bush vs. Gore, Iran Contra, the Contract on America, gay marriage, abortion,
or gun rights, she had no comment. This makes one wonder. Why hadn't Ms. Whitman ever
bothered to vote? Has she never felt the urge of responsibility or involvement that would
demand her voice be heard as a voting citizen?
Last week New York City had the lowest voter turnout ever for an election. In
districts with thousands of registered voters, as few as ten showed up in the twelve hours
the polls were open. California has notoriously low turnout, especially in off-year elections.
Nationally, we are pleased when 60% of those registered to vote show up to cast a ballot.
This would imply that tens of millions feel totally left out by the political process or are
disgusted with the candidates they are offered or are simply ignored. Should we feel
encouraged Ms. Whitman wants to enter public service now that she has made her millions?
Should the fact that she never voted disqualify her from public office? Maybe in and of
itself, it shouldn't; but her total indifference to her responsibility as a citizen and her
refusal to inject her opinions and expertise into the marketplace of policy, ideas, and
proposals should. She touts herself as having answers to California's economic problems
and says her skills as a successful CEO show she has the chops to get the job done; but
where has she been all her life? Why hasn't she wanted to get involved before now? And
why now? Did she feel she wasn't informed well enough before on the issues, but she's
informed now? Was she so distracted by all her CEOing that she couldn't take the time
to vote? Who's to say she won't get distracted again while governor? Was her time too
valuable to waste standing in line? Is her time less valuable now? And most importantly,
how do we know she even cares about the "little people" of California?
Ms. Whitman continues to reveal herself. She's on the record promising to cut
over 40,000 government jobs to save billions of dollars; but when asked which jobs and
which departments would get the axe, she had no comment. When asked how she could
cut so many jobs when the governor has no power over many of their budgets, she had
no comment. Just like her predecessor the "boobengrabber", she talks a good game, but
avoids the specifics. Remember how Ahh-nold promised to find billions of dollars in waste
and eliminate it? Has anyone seen any of these savings yet?
There is, however, one policy position which she has been specific about which
clearly shows she has no leadership qualities at all. She is opposed to releasing non-violent
prison inmates early or offering them alternatives to incarceration. She is on the record
in favor of building additional prisons and keeping all these inmates locked up. The budget
for the California Department of Corrections is over ten billion dollars. If it hasn't yet, it
will soon exceed the budget for the entire University of California system. Just a few weeks
ago, the UC trustees announced they will have to raise tuition 45% next year to make up
for budget cuts imposed by the governor and the state legislature. Ms. Whitman, for whom
the simple act of merely voting was too strenuous, too time-consuming, and beneath her
interest, wants to spend billions more on prisons while cutting the UC budget and forcing
tuition up even higher.
The average prison guard in California, with only a high school education or GED,
has a starting salary of over $50,000 which can exceed $100,000 with overtime. Prison
guards can retire and get pension benefits by 54 years of age and receive 90% of their
salary. The job of a California prison guard is not as dangerous as that of a California
Highway Patrol officer, yet they make more money. Currently, the California prison system
is under federal receivership because of how badly it is run. Some estimates are that it
costs more than $100,000 per cell to build a new prison.
What is the old saying? "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to
stop digging." Ms. Whitman, in an attempt to look tough on crime and pander to her
regressive base, wants to throw even more billions of dollars at a broken, ill-defined, and
dysfunctional prison system which is draining direly needed resources from education
and other priorities.
The irony should be lost on no one. A CEO known for thinking outside the box
in the creation and management of eBay, shows no such talent when faced with the issues
of crime and punishment. The California prison system is a complete failure. The delivery
of medical care to prison inmates is so poor that the system is under a federal court order
to spend billions to fix it. The recidivism rate is over 70%; which means seven in ten
inmates will leave prison and commit another crime! Despite internationally recognized
studies which show alternative sentencing methods can relieve the prison population; the
California prison system hasn't adopted any new approaches. The definition of insanity
is to keep repeating the same actions and expecting different results. Ms. Whitman wants
to be governor, but on her first "hot button" issue she's promising us she will keep "digging"
us into economic oblivion.
What state or society could possibly see a bright future when they spend more
money on prisons than they spend on higher education? What sort of society cuts back
on healthcare for families and the poor, reduces vital services, raids local treasuries, and
bankrupts itself in order to support a dysfunctional and failed prison system when there
are reasonable alternatives? How is it possible that the prison guard's union holds more
sway than teachers, nurses, police, or firefighters?
Meg Whitman says she wants to become a public servant by becoming the next
governor of California; yet she never had the desire to engage in public policy debate by
simply voting a single time in her entire adult life. She says she brings new vision and
experience to the job; but on simple straight-forward issues like prison reform she offers
us the same typical, tired, blatant, pandering, and antiquated thinking of the professional
politician. She couldn't be bothered to vote; nor, apparently, can she be expected to invest
her creative talents in leading the people of California into a responsible future. This makes
me wonder if she actually cares about the "little people" of California I spoke of earlier.
Someone must. And if not the politicians, then who? What do you think? I welcome your
comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org