It's amazing how many smart candidates we have this year. It doesn't matter whether they are running for County Commissioner, County Sheriff, State Representative or State Senate. Almost everyone is saying the same thing:
In order to solve government's fiscal problems, we need to create more jobs.
Seems like a simple statement. Seems like the right thing to do. But here's where the rubber meets the road — how? The way someone answers how they would "create jobs" tells you much more about them as a potential government official, than does their statement that we need more jobs in our local economy. That part is easy. Just say it. Now you are brilliant too.
The Klamath Falls City School and Klamath County School Districts have both approved "Open Enrollment." Open enrollment means that students (grades 7-12) can apply to switch schools before the April 1st deadline. If you don't like the current middle or high school that you are forced to go to based on geographical location, you now have an opportunity to switch and go somewhere else.
While open enrollment is in the direction of liberty, we still aren't there yet. What if someone wants to go to Triad or Hosannah? Since those aren't public schools, those don't count. You can go, but will have to fork out an additional $5-6K/year. Competition works best when pricing is involved. In combination, price and competition always turn out the best product or service — in this case schools.
If the two public school districts would embrace a voucher system, where parents get $10K per student (what is currently spent on each public school student), then we would have real competition. Nothing would be free as each school would have a tuition and parents then can make informed choices on where they want their child to attend. The school that is most popular would probably become the most expensive, but that's okay as other schools would rush to make their schools better. And there is the key, schools that are highly motivated to make their school better than the others. Price, like no other mechanism, automatically does this better than any central planning agency could ever dream.
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.
The 1992 Presidential race between then President George H.W. Bush (41) and Governor Bill Clinton can be remembered by a simple slogan, "It's the economy stupid!" The notion was that President Bush was too stupid to understand the problem that the nation wanted solved was a slumping economy. President Bush didn't get the message and Governor Clinton went onto be President Clinton (42).
Back home in Klamath County we could use a similar expression: "It's the Costs Stupid." While almost every government agency characterizes their financial problems as a "funding shortfall" this characterization is only a partial truth. A much better description is that the county government is facing a deficit problem. That may sound like a distinction without a difference, but that's not true. There is a big difference. By characterizing Klamath County government's financial problem as a funding shortfall, the natural reaction is to try and replace that revenue. Yet that only looks at half of the ledger.
To understand the real problem — the complete problem — we need to begin describing government's financial problem as a deficit problem. Deficits are caused by one of three things:
The statement that raising taxes often lowers tax revenues seem to be anti-logical. If the government raises tax rates shouldn't it follow that tax revenues also should rise?
Well not necessarily. This logic often falls flat because it makes a large assumption: tax payers will behave identically after a tax increase as they did before. The beauty of capitalism is the ability for capital to move from one person to the next, from one business to the next or from one location to the next. This free flow of capital is what makes for a robust economy. If Bob's baseball card deal is the same as Billy's but Billy's is less expensive, then Billy gets the sale. No one forced us to buy from Bob who had more expensive deal, so we went with Billy. The same goes for businesses and taxes. When a businesses' tax burden becomes too great, businesses will look for a more tax-friendly location.
People behave the same way — just look at California. California has the highest taxes in the nation. You would think they were doing well then. Well not really. Tax receipts were down 22% this past February compared to February 2011. What happened? Both people and businesses continue to leave the Golden state for more friendly havens. According to Spectrum Locations Consultants,
It 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:
After six months of Public Safety Committee meetings and another month of Commissioner contemplation, the answer the Wizards of Smart gave us to a Public Safety funding shortfall was to raise your taxes. You see the money had to come from somewhere and of course the government couldn't look to itself to reorganize or drop funding to any other program. Nope, you were the solution to their problem Mr. & Mrs. taxpayer, so it was time to cough up some more dough.
But wait. According to Wednesday's Herald and News the Governor is to soon pass a bill stating that Klamath County (and six others) can use their Road funds to fund patrols. This means the money allocated for patrols can pay for Jail Pod B and therefore the county doesn't need your money (for now).
Huh? You mean the county had the money all along, it was just locked up in a special road fund that even the commissioners couldn't use?
Watch our good friend Fred (left), help his friend Bill (right) understand why our officials are wrong to ask us for more money.
The reason we have this fiscal crisis is because government revenues are down. Why have revenues decreased? They are down because our local economy has tanked. So the solution — according to the wizards of smart — is to take MORE money out of the private sector. What?!? They claim they want more jobs and economic growth and in the same breath say they need to take more money from the private sector. Just think about that for a second and the response is, Really? Really.
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?