Friday, November 23, 2007

I Love Maryland, Part 37

This time, it's E.J. Dionne who explains why.
Imagine a place where the leading politician pokes fun at those who "regard all taxes as a pestilence, a plague or a disease."

Imagine the same politician saying: "Not one of us wants to pay more in taxes. But you know what we want even less? What we want even less is to leave our country to our kids in a worsened condition."

And imagine a place where other politicians are grown-ups and decide that closing budget deficits requires a mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

The place in question is clearly not Washington. Facing a $1.7 billion budget deficit, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- who offered the above observations in an interview -- led the legislature this week to approve $1.4 billion in taxes and $550 million in spending cuts. It's been a long time since we've seen that kind of balance from the federal government.

Maryland doesn't do everything perfectly, and its legal system, particularly, has disappointed me recently. But by and large, things work here. The schools are good. The economy hums. There isn't a massive amount of racial tension (probably the best racial climate in an ex-slave state). There are many truly talented public servants -- I'm far more likely to agonize over several excellent choices than I am to waffle between the lesser of however many evils. There is social cohesion, with the state's significant wealthy contingent recognizing its duty to the less fortunate.

The state works. And it's really something to be a part of that.

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