All Things Political: Proactive versus reactive government

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By Adam Haber

The primary purpose of government is the safety and welfare of its citizens.

In order to create an environment of maximum safety and welfare, elected officials should think proactively, to prevent existing problems from getting worse, and to stop future ones from ever occurring.

Unfortunately, too many politicians are focused only on re-election, causing them to make shortsighted decisions, usually in order to placate moneyed interests.

Let’s examine just a few issues on the local, state and national level where “the can was kicked down the road.”

Nassau County

Nassau has no long-term plan to fund youth services and prevent gang violence.

Every year youth services are among the first budget items the county looks to cut when the annual budget deficit appears (despite claims of yearly surpluses).

The proactive, cost-efficient move would be to put youth service funding in an untouchable “lock box.”

This way youth services can have a reliable revenue stream to plan long-term and stop costly problems before they happen.

When gang violence shocks Long Island our president comes here and calls our community “blood-stained killing fields” instead of funding preventive measures to stop future violence.

I predict President Trump will return to our community for the photo op to once again prove how tough he is on gang violence but organizations to prevent it, such as S.T.R.O.N.G, will remain chronically underfunded.

Remember Hurricane Sandy?

The county response was a chaotic mess and proactive measures have not been taken for a better government-coordinated response.

There are still major issues with communications among first responders, designating emergency shelters and properly relaying emergency information to residents if a crisis were to occur.

When the next disaster hits, Long Islanders will be shocked to learn how unprepared county government still is. It seems nothing has been learned from past experience.

New York State

It’s no secret The Metropolitan Transit Authority is in terrible disrepair.

The reason why is because there has been long stream of former New York City mayors and New York State governors who have neglected to fund the necessary infrastructure improvements because upkeep on roads, bridges, tunnels and railroads isn’t sexy and doesn’t poll well for re-election.

Instead of a proactive, cost efficient long-term plan, former New York State politicians cut short-term costs to boast they hadn’t raised taxes.

New Yorkers are now bearing the additional financial brunt of decades of this malfeasance.

When it recently became evident the LIRR was in a state of severe disrepair, there was lots of finger pointing and pandering calls for cuts in LIRR fares because commuters weren’t getting full service.

The political call should have been for a visionary, well-advertised plan, so this doesn’t happen again.

Gov. Cuomo is finally pushing through massive infrastructure funding to fix the LIRR. Let’s hope New York State infrastructure planning is more proactive than reactive in the future.

Federal Government

There are too many issues to list but much of the federal government is now run as most publicly traded corporations are run: greater concern with the immediate public relations sound bite instead of thinking long-term. It’s already too late to be proactive, however, there is little reactive concern about the almost $20 trillion in national debt. How will it get paid back?

On environmental issues, Teddy Roosevelt had the foresight to establish the U.S. Forest Service, five national parks, 51 wildlife refuges and 150 national forests.

Conversely, our current President denies global warming as world temperature spikes to new highs every year. 

Trump also pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement because his shortsighted “America first” mind set doesn’t take global warming into account. 

A few generations from now, as America’s major coastal cities are flooding, Americans will wonder how politicians let it happen.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower planned for the future by creating the interstate highway system through The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.

Today, bridges and highways across the nation are falling apart from neglect. What’s the comprehensive plan to fix our nation’s infrastructure? Instead of a policy of cost effective preventive maintenance Congress usually opts for paying more in the future as our national infrastructure continues to decay.

In summary, leaders who have the vision to think proactively, as opposed to reactively, are desperately needed.

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