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  • Last modified 70 days ago (March 14, 2024)

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There’s no place like home to improve upon

Two and a half days in Kansas, sandwiched between trips to awards ceremonies in Washington, D.C., are proof enough that Marion, despite its shortcomings, remains the best place I’ve seen.

Here, we may not be able to get fresh sushi at 2 a.m., but we don’t have to live like sardines to do so.

Yes, we and others in our town have been victims of bullies, which is why two groups in or near Washington wanted to honor us this week.

But Marion shouldn’t be regarded as a place where bullies succeed. It should be heralded as a place where they are exposed. Somewhere in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the 1st and 4th Amendments probably are being trampled even as you read this. But you’ll never hear about it in those places. The bullies will simply get away with it.

Marion may feel as if it has received a black eye, but the true shiner in all of this is that our community has shown how wrongs can come to light and eventually — though slowly — be addressed.

The secret is that government should keep as little as possible secret from we, the people. Newspapers like ours are supposed to fight for that on behalf of their readers. That’s what we and those who are honoring us try to do every day of every year, whether officials are raiding our offices or just stonewalling the public.

To make democracy work, citizens must avail themselves of the information contained when secrets are bared. They need to remember, for example, when government budgets are presented this summer that tax appraisals soared this spring. That means taxing entities, which love to claim that they aren’t increasing tax rates, will get huge windfalls at our expense unless they adopt so-called revenue-neutral budgets.

There’s nothing wrong with government spending more — provided we, the people who pay for it, get something in return. Paying for planting at least one tree in front of every residence, a good sidewalk on at least one side of every street, or a nature trail along an active or former riverbank are the types of investments government should make. They’ll pay handsome dividends in terms of property values and quality of life.

Spending hard-earned tax money on building cheap, prefab structures instead of renovating stately stone buildings is the opposite of that. So are such things as paying thousands of dollars for nothing more than basic jeans and T-shirts for government crews who, unlike most workers, don’t even have to buy their own work clothes.

It’s not negative to point out wasted spending when warnings are coupled with positive suggestions for how to spend money more wisely. But it’s dangerous when government hears only part of a plea and instead of properly fixing gravel roads, for example, repeatedly blades them to death just so it seems to be doing something.

We, the people, can’t expect government to make all the choices for us. We need to study the facts, speak up about them, and not let officials baffle us with B.S. that we could debunk if only we paid a bit more attention to what they’re doing.

We try to do our part by giving you the news. You need to do your part by using that news to insist that government spend your money wisely.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified March 14, 2024

 

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