I've had enough.
As the parent of a teenager, you might understand that I say that a lot. The frustrations of dealing with a pre-adult (her term, not mine) can be overwhelming. There is constant bickering, attempts at back-talk (NOT ALLOWED), ceaseless bargaining for more, MORE, MORE when it's something she wants, and the most amazing cases of hysterical amnesia that conveniently pop up when chores, tasks and general help-out-edness falls by the wayside. But I understand that living in this kind of an environment is part of the job when it comes to parenting. And despite the fact that I sure do get tired of saying I've had enough right before I lower the boom, I know that in order to raise a polite, dependable, trustworthy child, it's important to be relentless as a parent and not shirk my responsibilities just because it might be easier to do so.
This is why, Michigan Senate, I'm writing you today.
I've had enough.
If you're going to act like a child, you're going to be treated like a child. So now it's time to get a few things straight:
1. Legislating is serious, important business. What's more important? Running around enjoying perks, or getting in the trenches and solving the problems you were hired to solved? Let me answer that for you: SOLVING PROBLEMS. We have some serious problems in this state, and I don't care if you had a Fall Break trip planned to Outer Slobovia since 1980 with all your friends. Your job is to solve problems, and you cannot do that if you are in Outer Slobovia taking in the sights. You have to be here, in the State Capitol, IN YOUR SEAT, talking, compromising, and casting votes. I know you're disappointed, but life is full of disappointments. It's a hard lesson, but learn it now. YOU HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES. START LIVING UP TO THEM.
2. I don't ever want to hear "It's not my problem" or "I didn't do it" or "we are waiting for THEM to go first." I don't care. It IS your problem. It's everybody's problem. If you want to run around laying blame, fine. DO IT LATER. Right now sit down, be quiet, and get to work. And if you continue to insist that that other guy goes first, well, fine. We'll make sure next time OUR vote comes around you won't have to go first ever again. Or second. We'll bench you permanently and then all your wishes will come true. Call me the Fairy Godmother of Tough Love.
3. Compromise means compromise. Compromise means give and take. Did you catch BOTH words? You give up some, the other side gives up some. It has to be difficult for everyone. You won't win, and I know you don't like that. But guess what? The other side won't win either, and if that makes you feel any better, they won't like it either. But someone WILL win, and that will be all the residents of this state who sit day after day wondering how we can collectively smack all of you upside the head to get you to do something.
4. Constructing a workable, livable budget is is not a game. People's lives and livelihoods depend on its outcome. You toss off a list of potential budget cuts -- $5 million for transportation funds here, $78 million for Community Health there, $50 million for Department of Corrections, and $116 million for the Department of Human Services -- as if this were a game of "Sims Senator." While that might sound like a lot of fun, if you make lousy decisions, there is no rebooting here. No starting over with new characters to get it right the second time. No second chances. No mulligans. It seems you have forgotten there are consequences to your actions and decisions. Now I know that nobody likes to be reminded of consequences. They are so 1970's Bobby Brady "no throwing ball in the house." But it's time to put down the joystick and deal with reality.
Cuts in transportation means cuts to urban public transit systems. No buses? No getting to work. No employment. More unemployment. Less safety. More crime.
Cuts in community health means less money to rural hospitals. Better hope you live in a city that has a hospital. Oh, but better hope you don't need to take public transportation to get there because that got cut back there with transportation. Cuts in community health also means cuts to vital programs offered via the Healthy Michigan Fund. No more programs for Alzheimer's outreach, infant mortality and cancer prevention and control, just to name a few.
Cuts in the Department of Corrections means closing prisons and eliminating guards. But hey, who needs those extra 4000+ beds anyway? I mean, they're swimming with room over there at maximum security, right? Right? Oh, and when you release all those inmates, will they have cars waiting for them or will they have to take the bus ... that won't be there ... because of that pesky little transportation cut you stuck in ...
Cuts in Human Services? Oh, take your pick. Which would you prefer? Cuts in Day Care? Foster Care Caseloads? Bureau of Juvenile Justice? Maybe it would just be easier to cut 800 or so full time employees. Hope they have their own car...
5. Speaking of reality. Enormous pigs do not help. Neither do chickens. It makes you look even more juvenile than you already are. Stop it.
6. Think before you speak. I know right now your favorite sentence is "live within your means." Well, let's get one thing clear. YOUR means are most likely not MY means. I'm not a six-figure, benefits rich perk-a-holic elected official. And don't get me wrong, I'm not begrudging you your job at all. But means are not equal across the board. As a single parent, I work two jobs in order to live within some sort of means that do not include the words "welfare" or "food stamps." And despite the 60 hour work week, get this: I think I'm lucky. I'm lucky because I was able to use the words I WORK. Many others? Not so lucky. So please, while living within our means is easy to say when you have all the means in the world, it's a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who live every day trying to figure out how to make do with so much less. Once there is an equal playing field, then we can talk about living within OUR means.
I'm hoping you take this letter in the spirit in which it was written. Good parents know it is important to love the child but hate the behavior. It's time for the behavior to change. Now sit down, stop arguing, keep your hands to yourself and get the job done. Or else.