The state can never have too many mums, too many apples or too many pumpkins, but the message of this melée of signs is that the state has too much government, and that means too much taxation.

Neither party wants to cop to this predicament because political jobs are the currency in which they trade, so they`re going to go on pretending the problem is elsewhere. They`re going to blame Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, immigration and anything else they can scare up.

Socialism is paradoxically the political word for sin, the great bugbear of our body politic, and yet this is grassroots socialism, providing a safety net for cronies, supporters, and, often enough, relatives. And the cost of it is property taxation that is driving large numbers of taxpayers to the wall.

Both parties, but particularly the Republicans, have been making political hay by decrying high taxes, and yet year after year one of the remedies goes not only unaddressed but unspoken. There are too many offices, too many office holders, too many make-work jobs, too many sinecures, too much job duplication "and, above all, no will to lick the problem, because it has such an intimately human face.

The voters are as willing as the people they elect to overlook the problem, and yet everyone deplores the result " high taxes.

Nor is the remedy, or at least a stab at it, as elusive as the politicians would like the voters to think. The remedy can begin in any town. But the trouble is that it means letting blood. It means hurting people with familiar faces. It means heartbreak for people who need jobs.

For example, in one town, once booming and now fallen upon hard times, it means firing a nice middle-aged widow who earns $60,000 a year arranging tours and special events for the elderly.

Jobs and the justification for special contracts have been invented for decades. But if taxes are to be held down, there will be pain. No town in America is justified in squawking about Washington if it has not done everything it can to streamline its own operations, if it hasn`t cooperated with neighboring towns, cities and counties to make regional government more efficient. All government is local. The politicians and the voters alike must stop passing the buck.

High taxes are one thing, hypocrisy is another. I could struggle to live with the high taxes if the politicians would refrain from the hypocrisy that has deformed politics and misled voters. They know damned well that the problem begins at home, not Washington, and they know that because it has such a human face it is hard to redress. It would improve the quality of public discourse if, instead of lying about it for political advantage, politicians owned up to the problem and helped the electorate face up to the fact that if we want the services we say we want, we will have to pay for them.

The press knows this, too, but the press lords also know they have emasculated newsrooms to the point where there is only a semblance of news and no vigilance at all. So don`t expect the press to look at this problem. The press doesn`t look at anything where it has a vested interest, such as the sub-prime mortgage crisis, which the press could have forewarned us about had it not been raking in advertising money from the predators.

Once voters accept their own responsibility for this conundrum, instead of facilely blaming Washington or state capitals, they can hold their politicians` feet to the fire and demand government streamlining, starting in the townships. Not that Washington and Albany are not part of the problem, but they are only part of the problem, not the whole problem.

Think about that as you admire the mums and the pumpkins and the signs of so many people who want to serve you on your dime. Think of it as the gorgeous perennial bloom of self-deception.

 

 

Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.

The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org). 

He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.