There's One Thing Left For Millennial's To Do: Vote!


There’s one thing all of us are certain to hear during every election cycle: it’s the most important of our lifetime. In fact, we hear it so often that many of us have become immune to what it’s implying – except for the fact that this year, it might actually be true. Of course, while every prior election has been significant in its own way, the results of the 2016 election have redefined “importance” in ways none of us ever imagined. On a national level, our democracy is functional but fragile, as the current administration continues to threaten the American institutions that keep us stable; on a state level, our challenges demand solutions that can no longer be postponed by ineffective, status quo governing.

While the choices we need to make seem obvious, they remain dependent on our collective motivation to make them. This starts with my generation: millennial s

Political complacency has been a stigma that has continually plagued millennial s, even as we have surpassed the baby boomers in becoming the largest voting demographic in the nation. Our lack of interest is used as a tool for blame on election outcomes, and when we finally do show the motivation to take action, it’s usually seen as nothing more than an incoherent and poorly executed excuse to complain.

To some degree, the numbers reflect this reality: in 2012, 49% of 18-35 year old’s turned out to vote; in 2016, that number increased to 50 - a whopping 1%. The numbers for midterm elections, as you can imagine, are far less.

However, this generation now has the opportunity to change this conversation more decidedly – and the proof of this change seems to be occurring throughout the nation. Millennial s are beginning to age – finishing their education, starting careers, settling in locations, and starting families – making the importance of the issues, and how those issues affect the future – more firmly in reach. Much of this, in turn, has motivated more millennial s to run for office than ever before – in fact, I was one of them during this year’s primary here in Palm Beach County.

At the same time, the excuses often used to ignore political conversation are dwindling, too. Because this generation is more proficient and adaptable with technology, social media, and the rapid evolution of both, conversation about the issues that surround our politics is more available, more effortless, and less avoidable than at any point prior.

Yet, for as much as these indicators show that the level of engagement might be changing, they will only have a minimal impact as long as people stay home on Election Day.

In years past, not showing up to vote may have seemed like a more acceptable option, since the choices available to us often felt like simple ideological differences that were conventional, ordinary, and safe. Today, the possibility of a president left unchecked, or a state that continues to find little urgency in correcting the vastness of our environmental crises, addressing our educational priorities, and establishing more acceptable standards of living are nothing short of a series of reckless scenarios that can be easily avoided.

For millennials, the results of inaction are perhaps the most consequential. This is the generation that will be around to witness rising seas, to work toward vanishing social security, to send their kids to schools that lack proper funding – and protection.

Those are risks that none of us can possibly accept.

With that, I leave my fellow millennial s with the following message: jeopardizing our entire future would be a tragic price to pay for our failure to spend less than 15 minutes filling out a ballot. In just over a month, let’s finally put this stigma behind us by taking action, showing up to vote, and making the difference. Your happy hour that Tuesday will be a real reason to celebrate.

If you’d like to hear more of Ryan’s thought’s you can follow him on Facebook here.

Stealing the Debt

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By: Eric Bruns

The United States national debt surpassed $21 trillion on March 15th, 2018.  This is yet another milestone in the saga of ever increasing debt in America and, as usual, there was very little mention of this fact.  Outside of the fact that we’re all Americans that care deeply about our country, why does the ever increasing national debt and the current lack of any serious plan to address it matter to us as Democrats?  Because it’s a serious threat.  However, combating the national debt isn’t just a serious issue that requires a serious solution, it presents an opportunity to shift the political landscape for foreseeable future and steal a march on Republicans.

The national debt is the single largest long-term threat to our nation’s social safety net.  The programs that comprise the social safety net are among the greatest resources our country has for protecting those less fortunate.  They provide much needed relief for those that have fallen on hard times and need a hand up.  As Democrats, we constantly see it as our duty to protect those programs.  While we have fought hard to protect these programs from being dismembered legislatively, we’ve done little to ensure their long-term viability for the coming generations.

For the FY 2019 federal budget, the federal government will spend $363 billion on interest payments toward the debt.  By 2028, the interest payments alone are projected to increase to $761 billion per year.  That is an absolutely mind boggling amount to be spending on interest payments in a given year.  Think of what we could do with that amount of money for those that could most use the assistance.  In essence, as the amount of money we pay towards interest on the debt increases, the less money will be left to fund these program.  If we continue down the path of ignoring this problem until we can’t, we will be forced into a solution that will inflict maximum damage on the largest amount of people.  However, if we begin to seriously work on the issue now, we can come up with a solution that avoids hurting those that can afford it the least.

Deficit spending and the national debt is an issue Republicans have consistently used to lambast Democrats as “tax and spend liberals.”  However, the passage of the Republican tax cuts last year effectively showed that when it comes time to lead, Republicans lacked the intestinal fortitude to tackle an issue they claim is one of their most important. In reality, they made it worse and ended up increasing the projected national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.  This has created an opportunity for Democrats to not just protect the long term viability of the social safety net, but snatch this issue away from Republicans and bludgeon them with the stick of hypocrisy. 

Like all serious issues we care about, time is the most precious resource we possess.  Just like climate change, the longer we wait to devise and implement a serious plan to tackle our ballooning national debt, the greater the damage will be when we finally exhaust our ability to kick the can down the road.    If Democrats are able to take up this problem and work toward a solution, we stand a very good chance of gaining maintaining our ability to provide much needed support to those that need it the most.  Otherwise, the support programs we provide to people today will be on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

POINT OF VIEW: It doesn’t have to be business vs. the environment

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The time has come when the business interests and the environmental community in Palm Beach County must recognize that both sides have legitimate concerns that are critical to the long-term health of our county and state. These co-dependent interests often find themselves at odds as we attempt to find some balance between economic growth and conservation interests.

The business community believes that environmentalists all push for extreme regulations that create excessive costs and simply oppose almost any development as destructive. Unfortunately, environmental purists reinforce that view. Similarly, on the business side, comments are often made on the disconcerting realities of climate change, such as “the Atlantic Ocean is not rising”, “Saltwater intrusion in our aquifer is a myth” and “Climate change is a natural cycle, so we shouldn’t be concerned.” So, the issue in the 21st century, particularly in Palm Beach County, is how to create a rational dialogue and discuss what reasonable accommodations both sides can agree to.

Curtailing real estate investment on our barrier islands and other high-risk flood areas is an opportunity for a proactive compromise. As we inch closer to the next potential housing crisis, this time fueled by abandoned mortgages on homes increasingly inundated by flooding, let’s rethink our approach to waterfront real estate development. Long-term, we would do better to throttle certain development interests to sidestep or at least mitigate a potential economic meltdown.

Besides just building outside of flood zones, a mutually beneficial approach to development is “smart growth,” which is not a new concept in Palm Beach County. In an ongoing effort to preserve green space and limit urban sprawl, there has been an expanding population movement toward high-density development in more urban areas. Companies have slowly begun following the millennial talent pool into these sustainable cities all over the country. County businesses could benefit from migrating to these urban centers to engage this burgeoning workforce and at the same time preserve more farmland. Additionally, we could see a range of free ecological substitutes to engineered infrastructure solutions from maintaining more of this green space, like drinking water filtration and storage, erosion prevention along our canals, and flood protection.

Ultimately, the effect of the rising tides on the limestone and sand we call Florida will not distinguish between whose grandchildren are displaced by a massive migration of Miami-Dade County climate change refugees in the next 30 years. We need cooperation now. Fueled by rhetoric, the gap between business and environmental protection has widened and the danger continues to grow. Instead of having philosophical debates about owls and coal mines that serve neither side’s objectives, let’s refocus our dialogue on aligning our business and environment interests on risk mitigation and proactive infrastructure planning.


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Editor’s note: Rob Long is supervisor of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District.

Original post on here.

POINT OF VIEW: Why soil and water conservation should matter to you

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The traditionally nonpolitical Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently became much better known after November’s contentious Board of Supervisors election. The friction erupted over the SWCD’s Mobile Irrigation Lab.

The lab is a free, consultative service offered to local growers. Paid for through the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the lab provides technical analysis and recommendations to farms and nurseries regarding irrigation water management and efficiency. For the past 12 years, the lab has been conserving hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year in Palm Beach County, saving growers thousands of dollars and drastically reducing water usage estimates.

So far this year, the Mobile Irrigation Lab has documented actual savings of 78 million gallons from its over 100 visits to farmers and growers, with the potential to save over 150 million gallons by the end of the year. This conservation has a significant beneficial impact on irrigation runoff, water purity and utility pricing for county citizens.

Recently, the lab came under fire from several of the same SWCD supervisors elected to promote conservationism in our county. These supervisors want to privatize the “free” lab program, which would not only make these services unavailable to many small farms and nurseries but could also result in the loss of local SWCD jobs.

Fortunately, the Mobile Irrigation Lab program was recently rescued by a narrow vote margin and will remain a functional water and money-saving program for county residents, at least for now. However, instead of forcing the majority of the supervisors to spend valuable time justifying programs like the lab, which has consistently demonstrated quantifiable results, all SWCD supervisors should be seeking the money to institute other constructive programs, like the defunded Urban Mobile Irrigation Lab. That lab program used to bring the same preservation applications rendered by the agriculture-focused Mobile Irrigation Lab to residential irrigation systems, and consequently offered even more direct benefit to county residents.

It is important to know who the county’s SWCD supervisors are, and who is running to replace them. The SWCD deserves leaders who will fight to leverage this community’s resources to appropriately serve the needs of county residents.


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Editor’s note: Rob Long is a member of the Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors.

Original post here.