Today (Friday, Feb. 17th, 2012) the Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the drafting of a $1.8 million public safety levy. The commissioners were set to vote on Tuesday for a $1.5 million levy when a group came in and played an awful 9-1-1 call. The basic claim of this group was if just a little more money was spent on public safety, they could help prevent such tragedies in our community. Two of the three commissioners obviously agreed and added $300,000 to the levy.
Here's the problem. Our wants will always outstrip our resources. Some may want more policemen. Some may like there to be more libraries. Some may want for lower rates (funded by someone else) for their mortgage. Some may think they shouldn't have to pay full price at the gas pump. Some may think food should be free. Others might want discounts on all clothing. The wants of our society are endless. It's almost like the thinking of the little boy who once asked his dad, "Why do we have to have money? Why can't we just share everything?"
While a nice sentiment, the adult answer is obvious: there are always far more wants than resources. Always. Therefore there has to be some sort of rationing put in place. Liberals believe government is the best arbiter of such things. Government is "fair and noble" they claim. Governments can mandate pricing and then force taxes on group A to subsidize pricing for group B. Conservatives believe free market pricing is the most efficient and fair arbiter. Look no further than the controlled districts of New Your and San Francisco. The most expensive rent in the country and all brought on by liberal thinking of price controls on rent — supposedly to help the poor!
Saturday's paper's headline read “$4.2 million levy for jail” If it wasn't so predictable and so sad, it would be laughable. A tragic comedy if you will.
The county's Public Safety Task Force spent countless hours over several months to come to the only logical conclusion they could reach: recommend raising taxes to solve the budget shortfall for the jail. I could have told you that would be their recommendation on day one. It was like betting 21 black when that is the only number on the roulette wheel.
The problem lies in not the task force per se, but the rules in which they were constrained. Their mission was to find more money for public safety. So given that, what do you think they were going to do?
Throughout the history of mankind, we've always had the rich, and we've always had the poor. What makes America different, what makes her special, is we have a third economic tier called the "middle class". Only liberty and capitalism give you this middle class. No other system of economics (capitalism) & government (representative republic) combine to do so. This combination creates this robust middle tier and allows all to move upward based on individual effort and drive. This system promotes innovation and betterment for all.
And this is exactly why we must stay true to the founders of our country and not follow the ways of our current president who sells us utopia but whose policies are moving us back to the world of a few rich, many poor and none in-between.
The chart above describes average annual gasoline prices in the U.S. for the past 90 years. The black line tracks the nominal or actual gas price (the price at the pump) while the red line translates the price into 2011 dollars. There are a couple of items to note:
- For the second time since 1918, we are now paying as much in real dollars for gasoline (the first being the oil crisis in the mid-70's). Think of that. Commodity prices are supposed to go down when there is vastly more supply of that commodity. Moreover, beyond our ability to produce significantly more gasoline, we are even better at distributing it than compared to 1918, and yet we are paying the same real price as 90 years ago.
- Notice the steep climb in pricing from 1996 to today. In just 15 years gasoline has increased 233%! If we do a little math we can quickly see the average driver who travels 15,000 miles in a year and whose car gets an average of 22 miles per gallon now pays around $1,350 more to drive their car than they did in 1996! If you want to know why a dollar doesn't buy much anymore, look no further than your gas tank.
Imagine if we could return to $1.50/gallon gasoline. If you are a two-car family that's, on average, $2,700 in your pocket — each year.
We've all been preached the benefits of solar power: it's green, there's no pollution, it's safe, it's easy, it's affordable, it's.... wait a second. What were those last two? It's easy and it's affordable? Really? How can that be? One would think if solar power was both easy and affordable then we wouldn't need government programs to subsidize the cost of the equipment or the installation. Government gets involved when the cost is too high and the product too difficult. The government "gift" is to ease the pain and make the decision financially workable.
Two questions arise from this line of thinking. First, is this the role of government? By subsidizing solar, government is spending money on this that can't be used for something else. For example, instead of subsidizing solar panels, couldn't they be building fish ladders and improving dams along the Klamath to be more efficient? Government is picking winners and losers in the power industry. Again, is that government's role? Second, where does government get this money? They have three options: they can borrow it, they can take it from the citizens and for the Federal Government, they can print it. For the most part government extracts money from its citizens through taxation. Now let's put these facts together with solar power and how it amounts to citizen sanctioned theft.
It's hard to believe ten years has come and gone since the Klamath Basin Water Crisis of 2001. The problem began with a very dry year. Water levels were far below normal. But the real crisis came when a Federal Agencies and Judges decided that the survival of fish was more important than anything else — including people. The result was no water to farmers and all available water was sent downstream.
But in November 2002 a report by two Oregon State researches concluded that the 2001 federal decision to withhold water from Klamath Basin farms was unjustified is laden with errors and has mainly served to fuel resentment of environmental laws.
As I wrote last week, when we ask the wrong question we most often get the wrong answer. As with the "jobs problem" — in Klamath County as well as nationwide — the problem our country faces is not the lack of jobs. Yes, you read that correctly. The problem is NOT jobs. The lack of jobs are a mere symptom of the real problem.
The real problem lies in the fact that we have an economy that is stuck in the mud and sliding backwards quickly. It's like we're slipping down the side of a muddy bank towards the abyss in slow motion. These are the things nightmares are made of — except what makes this worse is we are awake while this is all happening and it's all too real.
Yet our President is focused on creating jobs. And when the President is focused on the wrong issue, so often follows the nation. We are so far off course that now others are coming up with "job solutions" or "job fixes". This is meaningless, and worse very dangerous. For example, U. S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of the famous Reverend Jesse Jackson, is now proposing that the Federal Government hire all 15 million unemployed people for around $40,000/year.
The Story of the Dentist and the Toothache
Long ago there once was a man who had a terrible toothache. After a time he decided to go see an expert in teeth — the village dentist. The dentist had a distinguished career with many awards and degrees. After examining the man, the dentist decided to prescribe some pain medication for the toothache. He said, "Take one of these every time it starts to hurt, that will relieve the pain." The man left happy believing he had a solution to his toothache problem.
Within a day the man had to eat the pain medication like candy. It wasn't four hours after taking one pill that he had to take another. Soon after one pill wasn't enough, so he began taking two and then four at a time. On top of that the pain medication had all sorts of other side effects. He was unable to work or be productive to support his family. It was an awful mess.
So the man returned to the dentist. The dentist re-examined the man and decided that what was needed was a stronger medication to help alleviate the pain. The man was a bit skeptical but went along (while on pain meds, he also wasn't able to think very clearly). The new pain meds worked at first but then the same cycle happened — he needed to take more and more pills. What's more, the pain was not only in his tooth, his entire head hurt and his chest as well. He went to bed that night intending to see the dentist again, but died in his sleep due to a massive infection.
The KBRA is an odd document. First we don't know who wrote it.1 For something that is being used as the baseline to craft legislation by Senator Merkley, shouldn't we know who actually wrote the darn thing? It's as if from the heavens this document descended on its own (no need for a Moses to carry it down) and different groups all said in unison "This is good. Let's make it law."
Second, the groups that are in support of the KBRA are really a minority in this community. They are well funded (thanks to public grant money — our tax dollars at work) and they make lots of noise in the paper, but they are the minority. The KBRA supporters would have you believe that if you add up the tribes, the farmers, the environmentalists and the fishermen you get a majority opinion. Really all you get are several special interest groups wanting the same thing — a leftist agenda. Even that isn't necessarily true. On the whole farmers do not support this document, but since the Klamath Water Users Association is pro-KBRA, you are to believe a majority of farmers are for it as well.
Finally (and this is the biggie), what in the world does the purchase of the Mazama Tree Farm and then gifting it to the Klamath Tribes have anything to do about fish restoration in the Klamath river? (As a side note, calling 90,000 acres a "farm" is like calling a Ferrari a commuter car.) Stop for a moment and think about this. How do you connect purchasing 90,000 plus acres of private timber land, then giving it to the Klamath Tribes to help restore fish habitat 50-250 miles away? The quick answer is you can't.
Who Pays for the Flowers?
Klamath County Commissioner Hukill announced building of a Veteran’s Long-Term Care Facility here in Klamath County as one of her main goals during her time in office. While this sounds like a noble project, let's take a moment to examine whether the idea is benefits the county or not. Here are a few thoughts:
Is a Long-Term Home for Veterans really needed here?
While a veteran's facility would be a nice feather in the county's cap and would bring people into the area to visit those who are in the facility, I wonder whether this should really be a top priority project that County government should be pursuing. I haven't seen any grass roots effort clamoring for such a facility. I don't see sick veterans lining the streets looking for long-term care treatment. Seems to me this isn't really a pressing need. I could be wrong, but again, this doesn't appear like something that should be occupying top of mind for Mrs. Hukill.