Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Government is a Malignant Polyp

HARBESON: Cleaning out government

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — For some time now, certain people have been telling me I’m full of it, and as it turns out, they were right. I discovered this last week when I went through the process of having a colonoscopy.

For those of you who don’t know, a colonoscopy is a medical procedure that enables doctors to look inside the colon for any abnormalities such as polyps. Since some polyps can be precancerous, they are removed at the time of the screening.

Now, for a medical professional to have a clear view inside the colon, the organ needs to be thoroughly cleaned out. Although a laxative is taken the day before, the really strong stuff is taken a few hours before the exam.

The directions warned me to be close to a restroom because it’s supposed to work really fast. I took the first half of the bottle expecting to run to the bathroom at any moment. But nothing happened. A half hour went by. Still nothing happened. As I was getting close to taking the second dose I started to think something must really be wrong.

Why wasn’t this working?

I wondered if I should have told them I was a political opinion columnist. Maybe they would have given me a stronger dose. As it turned out though, after the second dose, the stuff started working really well. I was definitely cleaned out in time.

Maybe I was still high on drugs, but after it was all over, I thought the colonoscopy process could serve as a great analogy to understand government. Let me explain by using Clark County as an example.

A few years ago, a group of well-intentioned people on the county council thought they were doing a good thing by cutting property taxes. In essence, they gave county government a laxative to clear out the reserve that had built up over time.

Now Clark County is experiencing severe budget pains. It’s important to note that many local governments are also struggling because there have been other factors at play such as property tax caps.

However, since Clark County did get that extra laxative boost, it did create a unique situation that does allow for a better look inside the inner plumbing to see how government works.

The most glaring example is the various lawsuits that have been filed. First, the county judges sued the county council. Then, the county sheriff sued the county council and the county council is appealing a decision by the Department of Local Government Finance in court.

Yes, they whine and moan that they don’t want to do it, but, gee, they have to spend the money. After all, another department of the same government said so.

You’re supposed to focus on these lawsuits as if one government entity is suing another government entity to get money. But what’s happening here is that these people are really suing you, the taxpayer. You are the one who pays. The lawsuits merely use legal complication to help create an illusion intended to deflect and soften this truth.

So the previous council’s laxative that led to the lawsuits did accomplish something: Now we can clearly see that when the government wants more money, there’s always a way. We now know there is another method inside the government toolbox that officials can, and will, use to get your money.

What can we learn from this? Well, it’s not about getting “new” people in there to deliver a one-time laxative. Such a cleansing can feel good, but government itself is a malignant polyp.

Eventually, we’re going to have to go deeper, snare that abnormality and remove it. Until people accept that, it’s just going to continue to metastasize and cause problems.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson actually kind of enjoyed the time she spent not being so full of it.

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