Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Government doesn't "spend"; just moves money around

Patrick Robinson isn't a political analyst. He's a "pop" author in the Tom Clancy vein. Never-the-less, we were struck by one of his character's (from a 2004 novel) concise analysis of government spending.

And we paraphrase:

Do you know what brasses us off about government? It's what is never adequately explained to "the folks". The fact is that "government" doesn't have any money of its own. It creates nothing - no wealth. They only "have" what they can take from the American people and corporations. So when they say, for example, a counter insurgency program, or an aircraft carrier is "too expensive" they are talking nonsense. Government doesn't "spend" in the conventional sense. They take money from whatever source they can find with out inciting a revolt and they redistribute that money throughout the economy.

This applies at all levels of government. They don't really spend, they push everyone else's money around and take a cut for salaries, pensions, and benefits in the process.

Let's take a road initiative. Half of the labor cost goes to they guys building the roads - paychecks that go to people who immediately give one third of it back to the government in taxes. The rest gets spent in the communities, buying concrete, lunches, etc., which goes to other folks who immediately pay one third back to the government. Some goes to corporations like Cat, Mitsubishi, etc., who pay corporate taxes. The whole thing is just a round-about.

The road isn't expensive - it's free! It's not the government's money anyway. They're just moving it around and taking their cut.

We get so amused by these people that want new benefits, new parks, want to force a "green" society via taxes; Where does the money come from? These folks aren't creating any new money. They are just taking from one area and moving it to another while taking a salary for their supposed "wisdom".

Next time something is called "expensive" or "no-cost" by your taxing authorities - STOP - and think - where is the money coming from and who is it going to?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Live web casts of County and City Council meetings good for transparency

If you want a democracy to work, the people have to know what their leaders are up to. And, conspiracy theories aside, technology has greatly improved public access and transparency -- from C-SPAN to YouTube.

More than 250 cities/counties nationwide have chosen to make their meetings available online. The services can be expensive, but not prohibitively so. Recent costs have averaged $30,000 for the initial setup and $15,000 per year to create and maintain searchable archives of the meetings. The public boards often contract with outside vendors who store the video and integrate it with agendas, minutes and other public documents.

In addition to Internet video streaming, many boards broadcast their meetings live on area cable television systems.

All it would take for, say, Woodford County to broadcast its Board and Committee meetings live is a flick of the switch and some pocket change. Board members and the County Administrator have talked a good game for months now about a new website which may or may not already include some of these costs. Hopefully, regional peer pressure will make it act sooner rather than later to enhance transparency in this fashion.

Of course, all of the video in the world, streaming or otherwise, won't make a difference if local residents don't actually tune in or log on to see their local governments in action, and, after watching, participate in the political process. But it does give voters one less excuse for not being informed and involved.