If you read the Herald and News today it has two Letters to the Editor by Michael J. Fitzgerald and Dan Keppen. While both are well written, both miss the point of those opposed to the Klamath Schools Bond measure. Whether ignorance or arrogance, they are missing the point.
The main point they are missing, and it is a very important one, is that Klamath Schools receive approximately $100 million (that's $100,000,000.00) each year. That's a lot of money, especially in our sparsely populated county. Both Fitzgerald and Keppen ignore this fact. It's as if they believe every penny of this money is wisely spent or that we shouldn't count this money when it comes to buildings and maintenance. Why not? Good question.
Suppose you were a generous parent and you gave your son a weekly allowanceof $100. At the end of the end of the week your son comes to you in a panic and says, "Hey, look, I'm out of money and I'm out of gas. I can't drive anywhere! Can you give me an extra $30 this week? I'll pay you back... I just need to put some gas in the tank." What would your first response be?
- Oh wow. That's not good. Here's $20 and two $5, be safe, have fun! ... or
- Now let's back up a second, I have a couple of questions to ask...
I hope your response would be the second one. The first response will turn your son into an irresponsible monster. If it's $30 this week, then there will be a different excuse next week as your son starts stretching his allowance to grow towards $200 a week, using different "emergencies" for a rationale. Always with an emotional plea he'll continue to borrow more and more with promises to pay it all back someday in the future.
Again Fitzgerald and Keppen miss this point. They are passionately claiming they need $30 for gas. All I am saying is let's slow down a moment. First let's take a look at what happened to the $100 this week and what is planned for the $100 next week. It seems like there could be a re-prioritization of funds so these “gas emergencies” don't arise again. Don't mistake passion for good reasoning.
The reason we are without a Henly High School and repairs are needed on the other 20 some odd school buildings in the district is because we continue to fund things the same way over and over. We have seen what that kind of mentality has done to our county, state and national budgets. Everyone is in debt. Everyone struggles to pay for services they need or want. It is not because tax payers aren't paying enough. It is not because tax payers don't care about children. It is because they way we've been funding these programs (taking out loans, misallocation, etc.) is no longer sustainable and now we are at the edge of the fiscal cliff. Stating, this is the way it has always been done is silliness at its best and very dangerous at the worst. If you want to see Klamath continue its 10% plus unemployment rate and for more businesses to close along Main Street, then pass the bond measure.
The bond measure will not have a neutral effect on the local economy. It will have a negative one. Oh for the first few years it will be a plus for the construction industry. However for the next 18 years, millions of dollars each year will be drained from Klamath County to pay back the bond. We're told, "It is an investment for the future". Really? That only is true if those children grow up, stay in the county and pay taxes. However to stay in the county they will need jobs, and outside of the housing bubble last decade, this county has been suffering economically since the early 90's. There aren't any new jobs because businesses are not growing in this county, so graduates go elsewhere to seek economic opportunity. Some investment.
The main point is that schools have the money for building a new school and making repairs, just as your son (in the illustration above) has the money to buy gas for the week. The problem is both are unwilling to change their spending habits because they like their current lifestyle. How much is enough? When it comes to government, there is never enough, they just need a little bit more. Vote No on 18-91.