Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Politicians Behaving Normally?

HARBESON: There’s always a way to get more money

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Clark County Commissioners learned an important lesson this week: The quickest way to boost attendance at their meetings is to mention a possible benefit reduction for government employees.

Naturally, the employees were concerned and wanted to object. It’s only rational to try to keep what you believe you’ve earned.

We can all sympathize with the frustration of feeling dependent on the actions of politicians, particularly when watching how they behave under pressure.

According to local media reports, during the meeting Commissioner Les Young told a member of the crowd to “shut up,” Commissioner Meyer accused Commissioner Moore of taking stances for political reasons, and previously Moore said the other two were using the employees as political pawns.

Those last two comments belong in the obvious category. After all, princes play polo, possums play dead and politicians play politics.

We’ve seen other instances of questionable behavior, the most notable being the cell phone incident when Moore spit out a string of expletives in a voicemail message to Meyer, who saved it and passed it through his gossip mill.

Even though Young apologized and Moore expressed remorse for that expletive-laced message, clearly none of these men are behaving in ways we’d want our children to emulate.

I’m not sure the rest of us would do much better though. We must keep in mind that the purpose of their government job is to decide how to spend other people’s money that was taken through coercive means. There’s no better recipe for cooking up conflict and it always boils over when governments run low on money.

In this specific instance, the potential spending cut was employee health insurance benefits. Is this the right place to cut? Would another budget item be better?

There is no right answer. It’s simply a matter of opinion based on each individual’s perspective of perceived personal benefit. Any solution is going to taste rotten to someone.

The only easy question to answer is that no matter what government spends money on, the taxpayer ultimately funds it. Even if the insurance benefit is taken away and government employees pay “out of their own pockets,” it’s still taxpayer money when it comes from a government employee’s earnings.

The commissioners’ current argument focuses on the various boxes the government creates to store the coerced funds. Moore wanted to eat into the cumulative capital fund, but according to Indiana Code, I don’t see how employee insurance benefits fit the definition of a county emergency.

If correct, then the expenditure would likely end up in a future SBOA report. Oh heck, that wouldn’t really matter since there is always a lawyer available to make excuses for negative SBOA reports.

The commissioners did reduce government spending at this meeting by eliminating insurance for part-time elected officials. Interestingly, Moore, the lone Republican, voted against this cost-cutting measure. But he receives this government goodie so his action makes sense when you apply the perceived benefit truism I explained earlier.

No matter how this gets resolved, if some part of the county government decides it wants more money, there is always a way to get it, property tax caps or not. Just look at the lawsuits pushing mandates to force loans which would be paid for by the taxpayer.

I remember when Sheriff Danny Rodden was on the Clark County Council pushing for an income tax, which eventually passed. He had statistics and presentations proving how great life will be once the government gained access to that revenue source.

But obviously, government spending problems do not go away no matter what politicians say. It’s simply impossible to supply enough funds to satisfy the hunger of a monopolistic entity that claims the moral right to take your money by force.

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson says many recipes exist to lower the conflict count among humans. Individual ingredients vary but the base is always voluntary interaction.

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