General Motors is shedding workers. California is forcing state employees to take unpaid furloughs for the equivalent of 15 percent pay cuts. Small employers on Main Street are closing. Teachers are losing their jobs. Everywhere you look in the private and public sectors the pain is being spread with one high-profile exception – the federal government.
It underscores exactly why the unprecedented $787 billion Obama stimulus plan that passed in February is going nowhere fast. The fat and expanding federal bureaucracy sees no real urgency as federal jobs are immune from economic ravishes. The bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., is anything but lean, mean and nimble. The stimulus plan was ballyhooed as a way to create 4 million jobs. The job toll in the 19-month-old recession has ballooned in the past few months to 6.5 million.
Now – with a bit of reality and a dash of honesty – the powers that be back in D.C. are conceding much of the stimulus package’s impact may bottom start being felt until this time in 2010. That isn’t stopping them from rolling out a stimulus package du jour with the latest being companies making approved investments in alternative energy would get cash instead of tax credits.
Congress, the White House, and the massive bureaucracy they have created are out-of-touch with reality. Let’s make it clear. This isn’t a malady that can be blamed solely on the Democrats or the Republicans. It is major flaw that both sides of the aisle have made worse over the years.
It should alarm us that the government that least impacts our daily lives – with the exception of military protection and oversight of critical commerce functions such as air travel and the air waves – is still growing and getting fatter while states, counties, cities, and school districts are being squeezed to the point it is no longer red ink flowing but out and out full-scale hemorrhaging.
How can they do this? Simple. Congress et al makes the basic rules the states, counties, cities, businesses, and individuals have to follow when it comes to financial responsibility.
If any other entity, household or individual in this country is drowning in expenses and can’t make it on their revenue they must ultimately pay the price in one form or another from instituting cutbacks to full-scale bankruptcy.
There have been voices in the wilderness over the years before calling for mandatory restraints on the federal government’s fantasy world. The one that scared the politicians and bureaucrats the most - Lewis Uhler of the National Tax Limitation – came close 20 years ago to putting measureable restraint on the federal government’s ability to keep expanding the money supply whenever the mood struck them instead of trying to balance revenue against expenses. The committee’s effort in the 1970s via state legislatures to pass a federal constitutional amendment setting spending limits came up short by a few states.
That failure opened the door even wider for today’s bizarre inequity between the haves – the federal government – and the rest of us who are the have nots in terms of job security and the ability to spend without giving paying it back a second thought.
Individuals and households have no choice but to rethink how they spend money when things tighten up.
A lot of local government agencies - from cities to school districts – are doing the same.
The State of California has yet to get the message thinking they can accomplish the impossible or reversing two decades of wanton, out-of-control spending by simply cutting back and forcing customers - taxpayers – to pay more.
They can blame it all they want on Proposition 13 but at the end of the day no less than three times in the past 21 years since the measure was passed by angry voters this state has used massive budget surpluses to simply add new government programs and/or to give a piddling of it back to taxpayers to create voter support on election day.
It is absolutely clear that the state’s’ revenue exceeded inflation and population growth combined since 1979. The real flaw is how we run government and our eagerness to keep dreaming up new government programs.
With a little bit of luck, the folks trying to iron out California’s budget woes won’t cave into Assembly Speaker Karen Bass who wants the “solution” to simply to solve current $24.6 billion deficit but instead will focus on retooling government itself by shedding redundancy, streamlining processes, and whittling down regulations.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org