If you’re like me, you’re completely disheartened by the government shutdown. We’re told that this is the greatest country in the world and a lot of people are quickly realizing that we’re actually far from it. Not only is our two-party system failing us but it appears that the will of a handful of men can change the fate of our entire nation. I don’t know about you, but that is really depressing and it definitely doesn’t sound like a healthy democracy.
What I find interesting about the Affordable Care Act is that States can opt in or out of certain portions. The Federal Government is powerful but each state has the right to govern itself to an extent. That got me thinking: What are we, as Washington State, doing that’s any different than the guys in Washington DC?
Well, we passed Initiative 502, legalizing marijuana (which is technically against federal law but the feds said they would not intervene). We also passed referendum 74, legalizing same-sex marriage. These are really good things and they give me a little bit of hope that Washington can do some good but why aren’t we doing better?
Why haven’t we, as Washingtonians, strived to be the best State of them all? What would happen if we stated rethinking how we do things and start to govern our own State differently? Why can’t we be so much better than we are?
At a certain point, the people of Washington would have to believe in that ideal; that we must work together so that we can all prosper. Only then can we start to improve the whole state and make it the best it can be.
- We could help farmers increase production by subsidizing upgrades of their equipment. Then we could encourage the people of Washington to buy local, effectively putting the money right back into the State.
- We could invest heavily in solar energy and then sell the excess energy to other States to pay off the original investment. Once we start making a profit, we can put that money directly back into State programs.
- We could actually provide universal healthcare for the people of the State of Washington (I mean, Hawaii’s already doing it!). Driving a car is a privilege and therefore we require you have insurance. Living and being healthy should not be a privilege, meant only for those who can afford it. Let’s let every resident of Washington State live long and prosper.
- The State could use its universal healthcare system to force down prices of pharmaceuticals. If a company doesn’t want to lower their prices, the State can buy from the generic alternative. Of course, anyone who still wants to pay a premium for a name brand could of their own accord. Pharmaceutical companies make entirely too much money off of the current system.
- Washington could invest in this kid’s idea to clean up our oceans and eventually turn of profit in the recyclables collected.
- Our corrections facilities could actually change from a philosophy of punishment to a philosophy of rehabilitation. We should educate our prisoners and give them more than just a bitterness towards society. Creating more helpful members of our State can only benefit us all in the long run.
- We should start better funding our public schools and do all we can to make sure every kid in Washington receives a quality education and not just the ones from rich neighborhoods.
- Washington students could be encouraged to go to college or university within the state with more than just in-state tuition. We could provide more State scholarships and subsidized loans. Washington can also make sure to fully fund those institutions to ensure they are world class.
Obviously, all of these things take money and investment. We have to invest more in our State to make it better; it’s that simple. That probably means that Washington would need to start a new State tax. Some people believe higher taxes would drive away millionaires like Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Bill Gates. I’d like to think they would be proud of an initiative to improve the State of Washington. They have more money than they, or anyone, could ever need and they won’t jump ship simply because they have to start investing in the future of a better Washington. In fact, Bill Gates is a great philanthropist who would probably love this idea. He could easily run a competition for people to submit “Better Washington” bills and give $100,000 to any bills the committee selects.
There are plenty of people in Olympia who have been too concerned with playing the game of “politics” and they are forgetting what’s really important: their constituents. Make the lives of your constituents better and they will vote for you in re-election. Stop asking yourselves how your party would vote and start asking, “Will this make the lives of Washingtonians better?” If the answer is yes, that’s all you need to know.
I am just one person. I just thought up these ideas, which I’m sure are flawed in many ways, while sitting on my couch writing this post. But, you know what? I’m pretty tired of living in a Nation with an ineffective government and I believe we can do way better. Washington really could be the best State to live in. So why aren’t we doing something about it?