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Commentary: If we were a wealthy state

By Joe Marren


Buffalo, NY – Dear God, all I ever learned about state finances I learned at my nephew Thomas' grade school production of "Fiddler on the Roof." So now I know that you made many, many poor and fiscally mismanaged states. But God, what's the point in that?

I also realize, of course, that the gov and the other two men in the room didn't know my mother. But, God, you knew her, and I knew her, so we both knew her fave song was "If I were a rich woman," artistic license appreciated. I think that song could apply to the bureaucrats and flunkies in Albany. So would it be so terrible if the state had a small surplus, especially one the pols couldn't get at it?

Also note, God, if you please, the use of the subjunctive here in my plea. If we were a rich state. Ya da deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. All day long we'd tax the wealthy, chum. If we were a wealthy state. The bureaucrats wouldn't have to work hard. Ya da deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. If our budget - remember that? - wasn't built like a house of cards. The state coffers could be just a squinch biddy biddy rich, yidle-didle-didle-didle man.

We'd build a big tall capitol with offices by the dozens, for all the patronage employees and assorted staffs. It would be a fine, gilded building with all the do-dads and gizmos just for show. There would be one set of employees from the minor parties and another even bigger staff from the two major ones. But they'd really all be doing nothing, donchaknow.

Hmm, the meter was off quite a bit there. Is there a spin doctor in the house? If we were a rich state we'd have a budget right on time. School districts wouldn't have to guess about their plans, the balance sheet would balance. Then each voter could squawk just as noisily as they wished. Each loud "jerk," "extra-curricular" "tea party" and "don't forget sports" at meetings would sound like a trumpet, as if to say "Here is a wealthy state." If we were a rich state, ya da deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

I'd see my colleagues and my students not worrying about furloughs. No more confusion about closed courses, or graduating semesters late because services were reduced. Ahh, what happy students we'd have if there were no furloughs. If we were a wealthy state they could do what other students do - that is, text in class and hand in papers late. Well, not in my class at any rate. Oh, what happy moods we'd be in without furloughs. We could then all be like Solomon the wise man. "Existentialism." "Polysemism." Using words that would fizzle a Distinguished Professor's brain cells. And it wouldn't make one bit of difference if the concepts are in syllabi or not, because when you're in a wealthy state all is well.

God, you gave us meter and rhyme, but would it spoil our chance to shine If New York had a budget on time? Ya da deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

Listener-commentator Joe Marren is an associate professor of communications at Buffalo State College.

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