In Praise of Critical Thinking

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The term “fiscal conservative” has become an empty phrase. It’s been gloried though misused by many Republicans for decades, given their support for profligate military spending and the disastrous trickle-down economic theory that has undermined the middle class.

Most of us, whatever our party affiliation, devoutly want to see true fiscal responsibility in our elected officials, with the sort of critical thinking that goes beyond knee-jerk spending cuts that refuse to consider the unintended consequences (witness Team Newport’s approach on the City Council).

Meet Ari Grayson, the Democratic candidate for the 37th district of the California State Senate. Grayson and I first met a few years back when he was president of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club. We collaborated on an education forum and conversed on the issues besetting our county, state and country.

I liked his style – Grayson’s a listener (a refreshing quality in a politician) rather than a pontificator – and I appreciated his in-depth analyses of improving public education, true fiscal responsibility, and long-term planning for growth in our communities.

That’s what you’d expect from a guy with a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Michigan and several Masters degrees in which he studied building systems, psychology, energy efficient building design, and town and city planning before applying his talents to a host of medical, residential, commercial, educational, and religious facilities.

Though Grayson comes across as anything but wonky (he’s a devoted fan of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team), he’s also a pragmatist with a long-term vision, and chose to run against the incumbent, John M.W. Moorlach, in part because he thinks that the people of the 37th district deserve more than a myopic view (my term) of what fiscal responsibility should achieve.

“On Moorlach’s website [MoorlachforSenate.com]” Grayson points out, “He only talks about saving money.” Moorlach’s campaign literature: “We need to stop the spending spree in Sacramento…. My focus is creating a lean, efficient, and fiscally sound state government.”

“Mr. Moorlach doesn’t seem to understand that responsible leadership is not only about cutting spending. What you’re saving taxpayers and families is important, but what you’re

costing us is just as important. What is he doing to protect children, working people, the environment?”

Grayson also questions whether such fiscal conservatism is beneficial in the long term. “Republicans in Newport Beach understand: We need a strong public education system to produce skilled workers for our local businesses to be able to compete in innovation and technology in our global marketplace…. The only economies in the world larger than California’s are Japan, Germany, China, and the UK. The reason we’ve done that well historically is because we had a stellar public education system.”

Grayson recalls a time when state colleges and universities were tuition-free. Today annual tuition at Cal State is $5,472; at UC it is $12,400.

“Even if you’re living in an oceanfront home, you still are horrified that the cost of a two-year UC MBA is $109,914,” he argues.

As a further incentive to business growth, Grayson is passionate about rebuilding our infrastructure, our highways, bridges, and tunnels.

“Locally that means addressing rising sea levels, including research into the ocean’s sediment relocation. According to a study reported by the Business Insider, during an economic downturn like we had in 2009, $1 spent on infrastructure returns roughly $4 into the economy.” 

Grayson continues: “According to the Economic Policy Institute, infrastructure spending boosts the economy and reduces unemployment. John Moorlach is an accountant, not an economist, but he should know this. He’s either ignorant about how the economy works or he chooses to ignore economic reality. In either case, we deserve better, and we should demand more from our elected officials. That’s why I’m running — because lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that this state is prepared to compete in the years to come.”

In a campaign climate where many Republicans are re-examining their political affiliation, Ari Grayson deserves their consideration. To learn more about Grayson’s brand of fiscal responsibility contact [email protected]

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