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Archive for Monday, April 29, 2002

Complicated or simple?

April 29, 2002

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Humans have a horrible way of ignoring the most simple solutions to major problems.

Humans have a special talent for taking simple issues and complicating them to the point of disaster. The funding issues facing the Kansas Legislature and the vicious conflicts with the Israelis and Palestinians quickly come to mind.

The state of Kansas doesn't have nearly as much money as it needs to finance countless programs, and school funding is among the major casualties for the coming budget year. Local school agencies are having to cut back on needed personnel and programs because of the Legislature's laxity or incompetence, complicated by a governor whose leadership in the field has been marginal at best.

The formula isn't too difficult, the kind of thing that most people can master by the fourth or fifth grade. You have to take in enough money to fund things you need. When the income does not match the probable outgo, then you need to accumulate more funds. Governments tend to do the latter best.

That, of course, almost invariably means tax increases which the 2002 Kansas Legislature has constantly sidestepped, despite the clear evidence of the need. Many states are battling the same kinds of shortfalls for many reasons, not the least of which was the 9-11 tragedies. Economic slumps have occurred in many categories.

Raising taxes is not popular even in good times so it is understandable our legislators are reluctant to apply new lugs at this point. But when so many vital operations are weakened and imperiled, strong and courageous actions are required.

That, naturally, means state taxes need to be raised for the coming budget period. But our lawmakers have acted in weak and cowardly fashion in declining to boost the income to match the needed outgo.

There are complications, to be sure, but the fact is that a simple solution to a major problem is being swept under the rug with all kinds of excuses.

Then there is the bloody, violent Middle East morass. The bottom-line resolution should be so clear: The Palestinians are entitled to land they can call their own; the Israelis have a right to exist as a people and a nation. So why not wipe out the previous problems and get down to that, immediately?

Not so easy, critics will respond, considering all the ramifications of history and bitterness between the peoples in the mix. But things are not going to change, and killing and destruction will continue until Israel accepts reasonable Palestinian territorial requests and the Palestinians discontinue their penchant for trying to prevent Israel from existing.

Oh, such difficult problems, and yet solutions are so simple if only people of intelligence, compassion and good will could face up to the issues and resolve them reasonably.

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