By Shyley MacFarland
If you are 18 years or older, an American citizen, and otherwise eligible to vote, there are countless reasons that you should vote in every election — on the city, county, state, and federal levels. Maybe you do not want to register to vote because you do not want to be called for jury duty. You may think in the grand scheme of things your vote doesn’t count. You may even believe what goes on in Washington, D.C., or at a city council meeting in your town have no effects on you or your life, but you are wrong. In fact, politics affect nearly every part of your life. Here are just five ways it does so.
- Your job and income — When the overall economy of your state is good, you will find there are more jobs and better job security. You may also enjoy a raise in pay, or increased benefits. When the economy is bad, companies start laying people off and finding a job that pays enough is almost impossible. Numerous decisions made by your state government, and in some cases the federal government have an impact on the economy where you live. Some industries affected by government decisions and actions include energy, construction, and manufacturing.
- Your education or that of your child — In your state, there is a Board of Education, which sets the standards, budgets, and rules of the public and private schools within the state, including the Universities and community colleges. Within each school district, there is a school board. This group of elected officials governs the schools in the district, according to the standards and rules set forth by the state. There is also a United States Department of Education. This government agency administers federal grant programs and student loans as well as ensuring every student within the country is treated equally. Those school board elections may not seem like a big deal, but they are.
- Your bank, credit union, or lending institution — Banks, credit unions, small loan companies, and even mortgage companies are regulated by a few different government entities. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve Board are the most important to your life. The first ensures the money you deposit into your bank account is safe in the event the bank faces robbery, failure, or some other unusual circumstance affecting the money you have on deposit. The Federal Reserve Board sets the national interest rate, which influences how much interest you pay on loans and mortgages.
- How often (and what type of) garbage will be collected — This is decided at either the city or county level, depending on where you live. Some cities will not allow trash collectors to pick up specific items, such as old furniture or brush. More and more towns are requiring their citizens to separate out their recyclable materials. Some municipalities only have trash pickup once a week while others provide collection twice a week or more. You’ll see why this matters if your garbage starts piling up. Your trash collection cost is also a government decision unless you are using a private waste company.
- The safety and quality of the food you eat — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for ensuring the foods you consume are safe. That is not limited to imported foods, foods grown in the U.S. (including all meats), food sold in grocery stores or that sold to restaurants. It also regulates seeds, so if you grow your own food don’t think the USDA does not affect you.
These are just some examples of how government affects your life. There are countless more that affect you even if you have chosen to live off-grid. These include the safety of your neighborhood, transportation, healthcare, your retirement, and even the quality of the air you breathe.
This is why it is vital to your well-being, and that of your family, to vote, and to carefully consider the candidates during the campaign period before the election. You have a responsibility to yourself, your family, your city, county, state and country to vote for the person you believe is best suited to the job, as well as the person whose ideals and values are closely aligned with your own ideals and values. It matters, and to do anything less has an impact on someone, somewhere.