Arthur Saginian | Reviewing Horton’s Wish List

Letters to the Editor
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I read how Gary Horton plans to “fix the world with a few paragraphs” (commentary, Aug. 4). He started off pretty good with talk of citizenship and civic duty. He actually had my attention for awhile, but then he turned the corner and got weird right after saying, “Pretty radical, huh?” It was as if he felt his opening was just a bit too reasonable, which might equate to “radical” for a progressive Democrat, and that it was now time for the finale, time to show his true colors and really go off the deep end.

I recently wrote a letter in response to columnist Jim de Bree’s lamentations of our corrupt capitalistic economy wherein I verbalized what was materializing on my “mental white board” as I was reading de Bree’s article. I felt the exact same urge as I read the remainder of Gary Horton’s article on how to “fix” America’s problems. Incidentally, why Horton opens by challenging the reader to “see just how crazy a progressive social Democrat can be” is beyond me. Perhaps he was bragging. I have no idea. Anyway…

Like I said, I’m all for Horton’s call for immigration reform, paths to citizenship, and teaching people about their civic duty, but his plans to fix our “unjust legal system” and homelessness seem to come more out of a “Christmas Wish List” than anything realistic. So, on to the “mental whiteboard”:

No cash fines. Well, that also means no revenue source. How will we fund the court system?

Making traffic fines paid in service will result in less speeding and more respect for laws overnight. Really? Where has this been accomplished?

Eliminate bail. A seasoned judge will decide who stays in jail and who gets released pending trial. I don’t see the incentive to returning to court to face trial if you have no money to lose. As it is people skip bail all the time.

Watch how much better everyone behaves when all face the real risk of sitting around jail for weeks. When has jail time, or even the threat of execution, deterred people from committing crimes?

We must humanely and quickly build facilities for uptake for every homeless person. Oh, OK, and what do you do when the homeless won’t live in them? Most homeless folks don’t take well to confinement, rules and restrictions.

Complete with counseling, medical, job training – whatever. Whatever? Really? Where is all this money coming from?

We must build hospitals, treatment centers, and, if needed, permanent protective facilities. I don’t even know what “permanent protective facilities” are, but the state’s $100 billion surplus will be used up by the environmental impact reports alone. But that’s only half of the problem. Even if we can cover the capital cost of building all of this, where is the revenue stream to pay for the annual operation and maintenance of the facilities, not to mention the salaries and benefits of all of the specialized staff who will work in them?

My head is spinning. That was me. My head is spinning.

 OK, these questions barely scratch the surface of the fiscal and logistical nightmares that will be created by what Gary Horton is proposing here. I’m an engineering project manager at the largest municipal utility in the United States with nearly 15 years of experience in delivering capital improvement projects on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars each, and I am at a complete loss as to where to even begin a rational conversation about this. Horton’s conceptual and planning skills are fabulous, but the actual implementation of his “fixes” is impractical to the point of being impossible.

Impressive article, though. Very impressive.

Arthur G. Saginian

Santa Clarita

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