Friday, December 26, 2008

Too much government

I like this Letter to the Editor from a Chester County resident originally published in The Pottstown Mercury. Mark Furlong argues that it's insanity to rely on government to solve problems created by government.
Cut government down to size

Given their prominent roles in the collapse of our economy, it was not unexpected that Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey Jr. offered my wallet to both the UAW and delinquent mortgage holders. Are there yet other shoes to drop? Unfortunately, I found a whopper.

According to a Pew Research Study, the collective indebtedness of state governments is $2.17 trillion and growing. States have put aside a mere $11 billion to fund a current $381 billion liability for future non-pension benefits e.g. healthcare.

The average public sector employee earns 46 percent more in total compensation than her or his more productive counterpart in the private sector. Government employers spend 60 percent more per worker on benefits than private sector employers.

I am less concerned with how we got to this point than I am with how we get ourselves out. This is how we start:

A) Job Outsourcing — The vast majority of public sector positions will be outsourced to the more efficient and productive private sector.

B) Pensions & Healthcare — Defined benefit plans will be replaced with defined contribution plans.

C) Paid Sick Days — Gone.

D) Union Wage Scale Standards For Public Works Projects — Gone.

E) Race/Gender Based Hiring And Contract Preferences — Gone.

F) Education — Merged School Districts, cyber education programs, competition for the education dollar, the elimination of tenure for professors and even scholarships for athletes are just the tip of the iceberg as far as reforming this black hole is concerned.

The infinite universe of cost reduction possibilities will also include the merging of townships, the sale of the governor's mansion, a reduction by half in the size of the state legislature and cyber-legislating from the homes of state legislators

The realm of revenue enhancement also appears virtually limitless and will include the following:

A) Casino Expansion - Gaming options will be expanded to a "Las Vegas" Standard. Residual revenues from these sources after set asides for long promised property tax elimination will be earmarked for debt reduction.

B) Alcohol Distribution - State stores will be sold and the number of alcohol sales licenses will be expanded to include mass merchants.

C) Advertising & Licensing - Every public building, vehicle, street and pencil will be a candidate for billboards or signage or naming rights.

D) Expense Deduction Reform - The days of writing off stadium sky boxes, stays at four-star hotels and meals at four-star restaurants are over. The new allowable standards will be bleacher seats, Days Inns and Applebees.

Crippling fines for frivolous law suits and windfall profit taxes on attorney contingency fees also have a nice ring to them with many ancillary benefits.

With a rate of inflation approaching deflation and a virtual smorgasbord of cost reduction/revenue enhancement options, any public official who even hints at the prospect of a tax increase over the next five years should be tarred and feathered. At a minimum, taxpayers should find out where these people live, work and shop for the purpose of making this point.

North Coventry

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