Lacey Smith

On the issues: Do ALL your research

In Politics, Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Elections are one of the things that make America unique. A democratic process is found in many countries throughout the world but the legitimacy and success of some of the governments formed is highly suspect.

The right to vote, as with all rights, is not just a privilege we enjoy but comes with responsibilities.

It is very important that we do a lot of research and make educated decisions. As important as it is for us to be educated when we elect people, research may even be more important when we are voting on issues. Issues are often complex and we should take time and hard work before we decide where we stand.

A good example of this is a vote that took place last week in my home town. The issue was whether or not to create an auditorium district and establish a hotel tax to pay to build a new events center.

One of my friends encouraged people via Facebook to vote in favor of it and he wasn’t alone. A number of businesses, other organizations and even the city itself advocated a “yes” vote. The hotels, predictably, were opposed to it.

As we discussed some of the reasons to vote for and against it, one thing became clear to me: only part of the research had been done by those who were supporting the events center. I don’t live there anymore and my research was also limited, but I was surprised by the lack of depth of study of those who were not just voting but advocating for a certain vote.

When we study an issue, we need to do all the research. We should ask many questions about not only the intended consequences but also the legitimacy of the material presented and what the possible unintended consequences may be.

Some of the things we should ask include:

  • Who paid for this material/literature supporting or opposing the issue?
  • What do they have to gain?
  • Are the parties involved trustworthy?
  • Who benefits from this?
  • Who loses from this?
  • What are the unintended consequences?
  • What might advocates and opponents not want me to know?
  • Will this raise my taxes now or might it in the future?
  • Is there a sunset to this (especially if it raises taxes)?
  • Did other cities/states do this and are the demographics the same?
  • What was the result in those other places?
  • What ensures things get done like they are supposed to?
  • Who is accountable to the taxpayers that the money gets spent properly?
  • Is this something the government should be doing?

Too often we just trust that the literature we read has correct, unbiased facts, that the government entity is honest and has our best interests at heart and that what we see is what we get. Rarely is that true.

In the case of the election, the auditorium district passed and a hotel tax was implemented. I was not in favor of it. I have a lot of history with the city that makes them untrustworthy, had too many unanswerable questions and saw too many unintended consequences.

But I wasn’t voting there, so what I think doesn’t matter so much. I am sure that a lot of people didn’t do their research, didn’t ask the questions and voted anyway. That’s scary to me.

We have to be more accountable and responsible when we vote, especially on issues. Otherwise anyone with a good-sounding idea and a shiny pamphlet can get anything passed. It’s up to us. That’s how government of the people by the people works and it’s the only way it works.

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  1. I was disturbed that we got two letters in the mail encouraging us to vote in favor of this… from Mayor Fuhriman on City letterhead and postage paid by MY tax dollars! Already it is costing me even though they say it won’t.

    • That’s why I say you have to do all your research. It’s really important to be aware of everything going on in a situation before you invest your reputation and energy into supporting something. We have got to quit being so trustworthy of our government. It’s a sad but true fact.

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