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,
- Why are we supposed to just vote “Yes” on a school levy? Oh, right, it's for the children. Really? In 2006-2007 an average of $9,872 was spent per student in Oregon. To keep this simple, we'll round this up to $10,000 per student per year. An average class size of 19 student per teacher means that there was $190,000 spent per class room. Let's say the teacher makes $60,000 plus another $20,000 in benefits for $80,000. We still have $110,000 left over — in EACH CLASSROOM! Where did that money go?
- Why are we supposed to just vote “Yes” on a jail levy? Oh right, it's for public safety. Why could the county operate all three jail pods and have enough money for the District Attorney's office as well as Officer Patrols in 2002 when the revenue for public safety was the similar as it is today? Ten years ago funding public safety with the same amount of money was possible, but today we can't? Somethings not right!
- Why are we supposed to just vote “Yes” on a museum levy? Oh right it's to save our cultural heritage. Without a public county museum our cultural foundation would be lost. Really? Why can't private museums do this? Matter of fact private museums often do it better, because they don't have guaranteed money coming in every year. Private museums have to provide compelling content that bring in patrons. This leads to operational efficiency and serving the public in the best way possible. Public museums have little incentive to be efficient or to provide interesting exhibits — unless it is time to vote on another levy.
James Madison wrote, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Madison knew the essence of government is to power. Madison also knew that governments are made of people who are made of crooked timber. That's why smaller governments benefit the citizenry far better than big ones that try to do everything. Because the end game of all government is control. If you don't think so, just suggest moving some of the money from the County Library, which knows no such thing as a budget shortfall, to Public Safety. Seems to make sense right? Public Safety should be first priority and the Library, while nice, should be lower on the totem pole of priorities. However if you utter such an idea you are likely to be excommunicated from the community for such a blasphemous proposition. Why? Because the answer is more money to government, not judicious use of what the government already has.
Wake up Klamath. Our government has enough of our money. It's time for government to join us in this thing they call “shared sacrifice”.