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12
Mar
2012
by: T. Jefferson
Categories: Government

Sustainable GovernmentIt seems "sustainability" is all the rage these days. There is great emphasis on sustainable forms of power, sustainable business practices, and sustainable design. But while we are being told to be good to the environment and our fellow citizen, there seems to be a real lack of sustainability in one area: government.

Government seems to be able to create laws and regulations that tell us how we must behave in a more sustainable fashion, but government never seems to be accountable to the same proclamations. Specifically, government's own model for spending tax dollars are not economically sustainable. Take for instance union labor. Every year over 400 union labors at Klamath County get a raise, no matter what. It's just part of the gig. They get a raise. It doesn't matter if revenues are down. It doesn't matter if funding for schools, parks or public safety may be at jeopard, union labor get's their raise. This means each year for the same set of services, government is more expensive to operate. Now how sustainable is that?

This model for government is only sustainable if one of two following occur:

1) This model works, if there is growth in the private sector, so the government's revenues rise accordingly. However, this is a silly notion as we all know that all economies go through ups and downs, yet government doesn't have adjustable wages to reflect such a reality. Because most county labor is unionized, it takes heaven and earth to lay off a worker due to economic conditions or poor performance.

2) Government's expenses can continue to grow and still remain sustainable if government raises taxes or adds new fees. We see this all the time: this fee goes up 1% or a temporary tax levy runs its course and then becomes a permanent one. However using this method means that tax payers must to be willing to have more and more of their wealth confiscated for the always-growing model of government.

This is exactly why the Public Safety Committee can continue to meet until the cows come home — yet they will solve nothing long-term (which is their stated purpose). The committee is only looking at the revenue side of the equation. They are not looking at the cost side. And frankly the cost side is probably the bigger long-term problem. In addition, the committee will continue to fail because they are only going to look at the taxpayer for funding any shortfall. They will not look internally at other government agencies. They will not prioritize government functions and fund those at the top of the list first and then if any money is available fund those items at the bottom at the bottom of the list. Instead, the Public Safety Committee will only see a shortfall and try to find a way to trick tax payers into paying for the current deficit.

This is exactly why residents of Klamath County must remain steadfast and not give into increased taxes as the "only way" to solve this crisis. Government has brought on this problem by their unsustainable model. It's time they completely rework their cost model and clean house first before they get one more dollar from any of us. 

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1 Comment

  1. Roger Johnson ~ March 12, 2012 22:52

    Fantastic article. Very well said. We do need to take this opportunity to look at how government operates. Is there any way they can be more efficient? Is there any way they can prioritize instead functions so that when money goes down those important items are always adequately funded? I also agree, public safety seems to be as much of a cost problem as a revenue one. What did the jail cost to operate 5 years ago or 10 years ago? I bet a lot less, and yet that is never talked about! Keep up the good work. #

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