07/06/13 — Real progress: Message of protests admirable, but there is more to it.

View Archive

Real progress: Message of protests admirable, but there is more to it.

Old sayings and lessons are enduring because of the truth contained therein.

So, when people speak of "teaching someone to fish," there is a reason that the principle behind the statement still matters and is still relevant today -- even in this "give it to me now because I deserve it" world.

Giving someone the tools to succeed and making an environment in which they can succeed should be the goal of any charity, government, school, church or even, family.

There is no one in North Carolina -- well, maybe a couple of real jerks -- who really wants anyone to go hungry, to lose his or her home or to lose unemployment benefits.

We all want to make sure families have health care and that children can go to schools that allow them to thrive and to leave with a high school diploma.

That's why millions of dollars are contributed to charities all over this state -- and it is why so many people support programs that offer proof that they are giving people the tools and the chance they need to start new lives.

But what those programs have in common with that phrase mentioned above -- and why their mention is so relevant in this state today -- is that they are not just checks. They offer support, hope and possibilities that make options available to those who need them until they can stand on their own.

They provide the support, the skills, the training to create a life with a future -- and a path to a self-made success. And they deserve our support.

But there is a reality, too, that responsible people have to face as they try to balance what is right with what is possible.

And that reality is that someone has to pay for the checks, the programs and the health care -- as well as all of the other programs that we would all like to provide to help those in need.

When the hundreds of protesters gather at the statehouse, there seems to be no real discussion of how to find the money to keep millions of dollars in checks coming, to pay back the funds the state owes the federal government and to cover the myriad of other expenses involved in running a government and a state.

There are generalizations -- sure -- but no specifics, no numbers, no alternatives.

And that is an easy position to take -- the one where the discussion begins and ends with what is "moral."

But it is not that easy -- and a discussion of what direction to take cannot be so black and white.

This state has to take care of those who need us. No question.

The discussion needs to be -- what kind of resources are necessary to make that come about, and what priorities should there be for where the money goes first.

And it needs to be a real discussion -- one with facts and figures and the hard choices that come with limited resources and burgeoning need, but also tempered with realization that slash and burn cuts (without rhyme or reason) help no one, solve nothing.

There are questions to be asked.

Would it be better to be able to send out millions more in unemployment checks or to create economic conditions where North Carolinians can find sustainable jobs?

At what point does the tax rate become an issue? Are we allocating money wisely?

And are there better ways to take care of the poor, the jobless, the elderly and the children who need help?

That is the discussion that needs to be had.

And it is rendered useless when it is accompanied by misinformation, half-truths, grand-standing and barbs (on both sides, by the way) and emotion that is not accompanied by reason and fact (again, on either side).

It is time to talk. And leaders need to make that happen sooner rather than later.

That is how North Carolina moves forward with a caring heart, a sound fiscal policy and a future that does not include overwhelming debt for its children and grandchildren.

That's how you get things done.

(And it would work here, too, by the way.)

Published in Editorials on July 6, 2013 11:55 PM