Sunday, June 20, 2010

Caveat Lectores Solves the Local Government Funding Problem

Caveat Lectores has two novel and heretofore unused ideas about how to handle the budget shortfalls that have seemingly paralyzed local government. It is so simple I do not know why someone other than the likes of me did not think of it sooner. Here it comes. Are you ready?

Idea Number One: Raise taxes. The elected politicians AND the tax payers should grow up and realize that there is a charge for services in our country. It does not matter who provides the service... somebody has to pay.

• If government provides the service, it is a tax even though we use words like user fees, license fees, monitoring fees, service fees, admission fees. You get the idea.
• If the private sector provides the service, we call it anything but a tax.
• We still pay.

The elected officials, with the help of the professional managers they employ, should decide, based on the perceived desires of the public at large, which services at what level of service to provide. Make that decision THEN figure out how much it will cost and charge the public. I know you have to balance anticipated income with anticipated outflow, but the decisions should be service driven not income driven.

What is actually happening is that government managers and politicians are still trying to figure out how much money they will have to spend before they decide how to spend it. If they do not have enough money coming in, only then do they start to cut services, expenses and lay off employees. This is not leadership. It is management by default based on how much we give them to spend. A public manager would call my scheme naïve, amateurish and logistically impossible to implement, but my premise that the service provision decisions are based on available funding is correct.

The right wing anti government forces want to “starve the beast” by denying government the resources to operate. I say figure out what needs to be done and send the bill to the users of the services which is everybody. Right wingers and tea baggers need to be put in their place. I have not determined where that place would be. Left wingers who think government is the supplier of all societal needs could be sent to the same place as the others.

Step up to the pump and do your jobs you weaseling wimps. We call that decision making leadership where I come from. Raise taxes in an appropriate format to serve the greater good and show you have some COURAGE.

What has happened, at least in Florida, is that a right wing anti-government element of the rePuPlican party started a successful rumor campaign that taxes were too high. Naturally, the public went along with that. Never mind that Florida is one of the lowest taxed states filled with cheap tightwads who want someone else to pay the tab for services they use. There was no concerted public outcry about taxes until the anti-government policy wonks started beating the drums for Tax Reform. Now we have tea baggers who have stumbled into the fray, as well.

The right wing cannot exist without the help of the people they are trying to assert power over. Surely, if the public knew how at risk they are they would run in the other direction. " plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!"

(Verbal Kint AKA Keyser Soze was not the first to tell the world “…the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.” Google: Charles Baudelaire and see what I mean.)

Idea Number Two: See Idea Number One.

Lest we forget the reason why government has historically provided services is that private enterprise would not provide the services to all in a democratic manner, government’s purpose is not to tax or to provide jobs but to provide service not provided elsewhere in the economy. The jobs part comes when we have to hire people to provide the service. The taxation part comes from the need to pay those who provide the service. The private sector only wants back in the mix when there is a belief they can profit off something they once did not want to unprofitably provide. Letting the private for profit companies cherry pick what is convenient and profitable does not provide for democratic or consistent service to the public. Government is supposed to add to the stability of a society.

We call these services essential services, and they provide for a democratic quality of life for all citizens. Along the way, government sometimes adds a few services to the list of absolutely essential services, but that is the way it works.
Wealthier people, who should under all circumstances pay the most in taxes, are typically not as interested in certain social services as they are those services that directly benefit them. Poor people have a different set of needs than the rich; and the middle class, which should make up the majority, are kind of stuck between the two polarized factions; so we have a constant conflict about which services to provide to whom. The debate should be over which services government should provide and how to tax whom not how to avoid taxes altogether.

The richest have more resources and use much more government resources than they will admit. The poorest use a lot of resources too but have the least to spend. All should bear an appropriate share of the burden. Oh yeah, there is that disengaged middle class in between who want to be satisfied as well but sit back and watch while they get screwed then complain. Maybe that is why I preach to my flock about getting involved with the political process or accept getting screwed. BOHICA

And Oh yes, Have a nice day.


Caveat Lectores by Jeff Carnes
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