I guess I could go off on a tear about the new taxes coming our way here in Washington state, but I’m going to skip that.
I’m going to skip it because, even though I can gripe with the best of them, ultimately I understand that we need taxes. Perhaps, however, not as many as some would like to have us pay.
Still, if I’d like the police to show up when something goes sour, I need to pay my share of the cost needed to hire, train and retain them.
If I want a firetruck to come calling when I smell smoke in the house and the door to the bedroom is getting warm, I have to cough up some money for the truck and the men and women who come with it.
If I want roads maintained so that I won’t need an alignment every time I go to the store, I get to kick in.
The same goes for such things as decent parks, good schools, competent teachers, and safe drinking water.
As noted, I might grumble about how much money is actually needed and where it all should go but, like most of you, I’ll pay my taxes while trying not to go purple in the face.
The problem, however, is that we’re reaching a point (if we’ve not already passed it) wherein I believe we’d better take a hard look at things and realize that there’s a limit as to what government can and should provide.
Proof of this can be had by looking at the financial problems that governments - local, state, and federal - are now facing. Simply put, we’re spending too much money on too many things and we haven’t figured out a way to pay for it all.
In our little corner of the world, our state government is looking to plug some of its financial holes by raising taxes on candy, beer, soda, and bottled water.
Fine, so they do that. But what happens when people decide to cut back on eating or drinking any or all of the above?
That means lower sales of the above items. Lower sales lead to tough decisions being made by the companies making these products.
Can they afford a drop in sales? If not, how do they absorb the losses and stay in business?
If they let workers go, that many fewer people will be paying taxes, revenues to the state will fall while expenditures rise (see: unemployment compensation for one) and we’re in a bit of a vicious circle.
I understand that many government programs have already had their budgets cut and that layoffs have occurred. I understand that services have been reduced. Still, the thing is, government can’t be all things to all people. There has to be a limit and we’d better agree on that limt soon.
I wish I had the answers to fix all that’s happened over the past few years, but I don’t. Smarter people than I seem to be struggling with it and the answers remain elusive. Too, it’s always good to remember that it was the “experts” in government, finance, and business who got us into this mess.
One thing I do know, however, is that spending more than you have or earn is never a good idea. Not for individuals. Not for families. Not for states or nations.
Which means that somewhere along the way, someone in government has to be willing to say, “We can’t do that because we can’t afford it and, furthermore, it’s not our job.”
I haven’t heard that yet but, this November, I’ll be looking for people - no matter their party - who speak that language. People who promise to stay within budgets. People who understand cycles and won’t go on spending sprees in good times and wonder where’s the money when the bottom falls out.
People who’ll find waste and attempt to reduce it. People who’ll eyeball every proposal and won’t run up bills that cannot be paid.
And, if I can find these candidates, I’m going to vote for them.
In the meantime, though, and regardless of who gets elected, I think I’ll be cutting back on the things that will now, thanks to our legislature, cost more to buy.
Because, despite what politicians may believe, I need as much of the money I earn a lot more that they do.