In 2010 the Tea Party burst onto the political scene in amazing fashion. At that time the Democrat controlled House, Senate and White House was running rough shot over what the people clearly wanted — or didn't want. The Tea Party got its name from the Boston Tea Party. Both were in revolt to taxation or fiscal injustice. However just two years later it seems the Tea Party has lost its way, and that is mainly because it has a serious flaw.
The flaw of the Tea Party is putting preferences over principles.
While many in the Tea Party claim they are a principled group who want fiscal responsibility in government, this notion quickly comes to the test in the real world. My good friend, Mr. P. Henry, wrote about how Commissioner Switzer was essentially calling farmers "sissies" because ranchers and farmers couldn't take care of a task that their forefathers took for granted as part of the job. But the problem is much deeper. Whether one is talking about county funding for tourism, trapping or soil and water conservation — these are all preferences. There has yet to be a principled argument made why these (and several other items) should be paid for by government. If these items have real value, if they are indeed needed services, then those who benefit will surely pay for them out of their own pocket. But there is no principled reason why tax dollars collected from the general public should pay for them — only preferencial ones.
We can breath a sigh of relief now that the County Commissioners have come to their senses and removed the three year Public Safety levy off of May's ballot. It is amazing that when properly motivated the commissioners could find the needed money that was there all along. Apparently, it was just in a different account they weren't allowed to touch without the Governor's permission. Imagine that. Government regulation getting in the way of being able to govern. Laughable if it wasn't so sad.
So now it's the Klamath Falls City School District's turn. They don't have enough teachers and their text books are old and outdated. Well who has been in charge the past ten years to let such a thing happen? We're supposed to pretend that the powers in charge just found themselves in this situation by no one's fault. It just happened. And now the taxpayer needs to dig deep into their pockets to help the City Schools out (again).
We need to remember that the district receives around $10,000/student per year from the county, state and federal government. If a class room has 22 students it means that class room gets funding of $220,000 each year. If the average teacher's salary & benefits package is $100,000, there is still $120,000/class room per year to account for. Seems one could buy new text books every month with that amount of cash!
Hello. My name is J. Madison. Well,... not really, but that is my pen name and I'm new to KlamathNews.net. Below is my first blog here and I hope you will provide feedback. One of the hallmarks of this site is to promote conservative ideas and then to show why they make more sense than the conventional wisdom paraded around as the only reasonable game in town. Part of that process is to get feedback from readers, so I would encourage you to enter the arena of ideas and let me know what you think. We may agree; we may disagree. The point is for robust discussion and finding the truth of a matter, rather than a complacent nodding of heads.
So onto my question: What If Government Ran Dutch Bros? What would we expect? Well first we would see an option for "free coffee." The government would claim that there are some people who can't afford a cup of coffee and that is not fair, and government must be fair. So there would be "free coffee". But really it wouldn't be free, because government has to pay for the coffee and the labor to make and serve it — and of course that labor would be union labor. Therefore a special levy would need to be passed. It may start as a seemingly harmless three year ballot initiative. It may be as little as $0.03/$1,000, but it would be there and everyone would pay it, even those who don't like coffee or don't drink coffee. The paper and government officials would claim that the Klamath County resident would only pay $75/year. Those who would stand opposed to this tax would be demagogued as mean spirited, selfish and the privileged class that don't care about the less fortunate.
How about the other coffee shops in the area? What would happen to them. Well one of two things: they would close shop or their prices would increase. In our market economy when a competitor (in this case the government) offers something for free, others in the industry lose business. So to make up for lost business and in order to stay profitable, either costs need to be reduced and/or prices must increase. Expect a little of both. Moreover, expect the quality of the coffee to decline. Since coffee is now free, the government will offer the minimal USDA and FDA level coffee in order to say the coffee is "safe". Whether it tastes great or not, is far less important. Government has a budget too and with unlimited demand, quality will be the first thing to suffer.
Someone once said that rhetoric can be defined as "non-rational persuasion." Or maybe a simpler way of stating it, rhetoric is "emotional persuasion." In politics rhetoric is used all the time to justify programs, causes and candidates. Most recently rhetoric was used when re-playing a horrific 9-1-1 call in front of the commissioners. The result was the commissioners voted 2-1 to increase the public safety levy from $1.5 million to $1.8 million. Their reasoning was that this group that replayed the 9-1-1 call needed to be funded by government. The thinking is that with proper funding these types of calls would not happen.
But is that true? Will more funding designated for a particular group guarantee horrific 9-1-1 calls are never heard again in Klamath County? That seems to be the rationale for the increase in the levy. But again, is it true? Here is where reason comes in. Up until that particular question, rhetoric was at play. Our emotions were engaged, not our minds. "This 9-1-1 call is awful", we think. "We can't have these kinds of evil things going on in our community. Someone needs to do something! Increase the levy, fund Group A whose mission it is to help stop these sorts of bad things and we'll all be safer." But the reasoned approach dares to ask the tough questions such as will extra funding really stop these sort of acts of evil?
When we take the emotion out of the air then we get down to what government can do, what government can afford to do and what government's proper role is. Also we begin to ask the question, when is the citizen responsible? The 9-1-1 call was of a woman screaming because her boyfriend was beating her, again. When is it the responsibility of the woman to leave the boyfriend? When is it her responsibility to seek help and protection from friends, family, neighbors, churches or synagogs before this beating happens again? Or is the woman completely innocent and therefore has no responsibility. Instead she expects that it is all of our responsibility to fund a government program to protect her from a poor choice in boyfriends?
It pains me to watch the political process in Klamath Falls and Klamath County. I am constantly amazed how government always seems to be short on funding. It doesn't matter what the issue is, the solution is inevitably that government just needs a little more money. Add a fee here or support a levy there. If it is a bold measure then government officials will dare to call it a tax. Whether one is talking about Public Safety, Public Health, Education, Tourism or Economic Development — the solutions are always the same: government needs more money from those they serve.
The reason this mantra is repeated is not because it is the only solution a particular problem, but because it is the easiest solution. It is easy to say, "We need just a little more more money to fund programs X, Y or Z." On the other hand, it is far more difficult to say, "We will cut back on programs A, B or C in order to fund X, Y or Z." To sell the idea of raising fees, levies or taxes for the city or county is second nature to the masterminds and central planners. To them this thinking comes as natural as breathing.
Why does government get a free pass? Why doesn't government first need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that they are spending the public's money in an effective and efficient manner? For example,
Today's Herald and News has two front page headlines read,
Main Headline: “Our lives depend on the river”
Sub Headline: “We were taught to be ashamed of who we are”
Here is the liberal bias of the Herald and New's editorial desk front and center. Neither of these headlines report news. Instead the front page becomes the editorial page telling a story from a particular perspective — a liberal one.
What if I were to say that as a conservative I can make those exact same claims? They only differences would be I wouldn't get my picture on the front page of the Herald and News, and I wouldn't get my story told properly. I too depend on the river — for fish, for affordable power, for agriculture and more. I could argue I depend on the river as much or far more than the perspective the editors chose to portray. I also could claim as a white male that I have been taught to be ashamed of who I am. White, male and of European descent is equivalent to unadulterated evil for the liberal. The only way to assuage that guilt, to rid of the sin, is to give back and restore everything to the way it once was — in a time when men were supposedly more at peace with the land and nature at large.
Why are there eight people running for County Commissioner and seven for County Sheriff?
It's like looking through a new deck of playing cards. Of course I'm talking about the seemingly record number of people running for public office. If you didn't know better, you'd think our community was filled with really public servant minded people. What a lovely community.
But, we know better.
There are many reasons people run for public office and far be it for me to assume I know exactly all the reasons why any of these people is running for public office. That said, there is one factor that can't be overlooked: our sad economy. If I told you there were three jobs available, two starting at either $68,000 and the other at $74,000, plus great medical and retirement benefits, plus a near guarantee of four years before your first review, prestige from many in the local community and offices in Klamath Falls, you'd probably say, "Sign me up now."
There once was a successful farmer who provided the entire community eggs and pork. His business was thriving so he decided to build himself a nice shop where he could park all of his farm vehicles. It was something he always wanted to do and finally he had the money. His new shop was a beautiful building and very modern. He was very pleased with himself.
However, one day economic calamity struck the community and many people were not able to buy his goods and services. His revenues quickly dropped. Almost overnight the farmer did not have enough money to feed all of his animals to run his farm, including his guard dogs. The guard dogs were essential to making sure the coyotes and wolves did not eat his chickens and pigs. It took a minimum of 10 to do the job right. Without 10 dogs, his farm would be at great risk.
The community was angry because they knew the farmer had spent much of his savings on a shop for his farm vehicles. If the farmer had built a smaller shop or fixed the old shop instead the farm wouldn't be in this financial bind. There was nothing the farmer could do about that now though, and even if the town replaced the farmer, the new farmer would have the same immediate problem: how to feed all of the farm animals in order to provide the eggs and pork the community needed.
A lot of kerfluffle has been flying around about concerning the idea of "using Library funds to help with public safety" or other budgetary shortfalls in Klamath County. There have been some very interesting arguments for and against the idea.
Let me try to summarize the ones I've heard against the notion and then explain why I think the arguments for the idea are stronger.
Klamath County is facing a project budget shortfall of $1.8 million. The current idea on the table is to cut the budgets of every county department by 9%. While budget cuts are never a fun process, across the board cuts are the easiest way to deal with the problem — everyone feels the pain equally...
... that is if there isn't money somewhere else, hiding in plain sight.
The Klamath County Library's budget has increased from $1.5 million to an estimated $2.5 million during the past decade. This year the County Library is looking to expand its services by purchasing a building on the east end of town. One has to wonder in this age of the internet aren't libraries becoming less relevant not more so? If this premise is true, why are we investing more funds in a resource, libraries, that is less relevant while starving a resource, such as public safety, that is always important? Libraries are fun places to visit, but are they as vital as properly funding public safety?