To the editor:
I attended the Island County commissioners’ budget hearing recently. Commissioner Kelly Emerson remarked that her two colleagues had approved almost every tax, fee, assessment and regulation that ever was considered. She thought it wasn’t a good idea, both in general and in view of the recession.
Commissioner Angie Homola thought it was a good idea. She praised the increases, said the programs made her feel good and began listing all the troubles county government has had. She seemed to be whining.
If whining is now acceptable, let me do some from my end: I’m admonished that this and that program costs “only a latte a month.” But there are 30 programs; I’ve not had a latte in years; my coffee shop has gone out of business. I drink Costco bulk drip in my chilly room.
When the housing bubble burst, my income dropped to a third. I downsized my lifestyle, reduced my expenses by two-thirds, and trained myself to think “survival” instead of “enjoyment.” All but one of my clients went out of business: their customers no longer receive their services, and the taxes they paid are no longer paid. I cut my fee by a quarter, and when a job runs over budget, I finish it for free. The value of my IRA dropped by a third, but at least my benefits were unaffected: I have no benefits.
Homola shed a tear for public servants, who are nice people and haven’t had a cost-of-living raise in years. Public servants, who are paid not from exchange of value as in the private sector but from tax takings under threat of the government gun, generally have higher salaries than comparable private-sector workers. I don’t want to deprive them of their salaries, but I’d prefer not to pay for services I don’t want: I feel like the little old lady whom the Boy Scout helped across the street. I didn’t want to cross that street.
A discussion about the purpose of government is needed. Feeling good with other people’s money may be the wrong priority. The coming election offers the beginning of such a discussion. Jeff Lauderdale and Jill Johnson understand the difference between a government that protects natural rights and one that does things for (and to) people. I’m voting for them.