Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cost of Government Deniers

Folks have been reacting to the comparative budget analysis performed by Lopezian Nick Jones. Most people have been very supportive, and many citizens think Nick did a heroic job that is long overdue. For those who haven't seen the analysis, Nick computes the cost of government here versus other counties in Washington. He finds that costs are significantly higher here than in all other counties. Surprised?

Nick's clearly stated and well supported claim has brought out the traditional County apologists, who are attacking Nick's analysis on a variety of dimensions. One of the people trying to "set the record straight" is Sharon Kivisto of In the past, she has been fond of saying that we have the lowest tax rate in the state, and when you look at the tax rate on a per parcel basis, there is some support for her claim. However, when you look at tax rates on a per capita basis, the view is completely different. We have the highest, not the lowest, tax rate, and that is the gist (and genius) of Nick's analysis. Since it is people who pay taxes, not parcels, the better benchmark is to examine the burden on the taxpayers.

In her response to Nick's analysis, Kivisto uses many of the same arguments that we've heard over and over, especially during the solid waste fiasco: we have higher costs here; we have triplication of facilities; we have to ride the ferries. All have a grain of truth to them, but these "reasons" for our higher costs are overused and abused excuses. Ultimately, the public grew tired of these excuses for solid waste incompetence, and I think the same is happening with respect to the County as a whole.

More and more people are refusing to buy into the County's schtick. The County is about to pass a "tax" (CAO/SMP) that will cost private citizens a whopping amount off their personal "balance sheets." It will provide essentially no revenue to the County, but increase government's enforcement responsibilities and associated costs. The County is committing itself to what amounts to a no growth strategy, but they still want increased tax revenue too. We hear some Councillors say we "need to at least maintain what we have" regarding county infrastructure. But the County is not equally committed to the premise that private citizens should be able to "maintain what we have." In fact, via non-conforming policies, buffers, etc., it seems the County is doing everything it can to make sure we are forbidden from maintaining what we have. The County has shown no respect for maintaining the capital infrastructure of people's lives.

With no growth, all taxation efforts are a zero sum game, and government revenues can only be increased at the expense of the rest of society. It turns into "us versus them." Speaking of "them" (see attachment), how many people do you know who work 20 hours/week and get $753 per month paid by their employer toward health insurance (and dental) AND $3,000 for a spending account?  How many people do you know who work 20 hours/week (or even 40 or 60 for that matter) and get their kids covered UNTIL THEY ARE 25????

And a 3% COLA ... or full-time pension benefits?


  1. Wow--any County jobs open--management, preferably? And is the job security as good as, say, the Planning Commissioners? (Yeah, I know, the PC members aren't paid, but some have appointments for life.)

  2. Breaking News!!
    Pravda, I mean the San Juan Islander finds reports of government fallibility to be completely false!!! Central planning remains an unqualified success!!! Rejoice, lucky taxpayers, another opportunity to contribute to the greater good!!!!
    Breaking News!!! Pacific County sends team to SJC for budget and management inspiration. SJC government; Model for the world. Pravda, I mean San Juan Islander; glorious trumpet of peoples planning triumph over revisionist pig enemies!!!

  3. Don't forget campers. Our CAO is going to be a model for other counties to bow down to and emulate. Good work San Juan County! A grateful public sighs in relief. Now, let's be sure to dig a bit deeper to pay for the future enforcement costs of that CAO, which of course have no enforcement costs at all because we have no economic impact data to inform us one way or the other. It's just a precaution.

  4. We have a warped sense of what socialism is all about. Somehow wanting to make private property and who has title to the means of production the essence. The Soviets by the 80s recognized they needed the revenue from the private sector and nationalization in 3rd world countries hurt that revenue. “Use capitalism” become the operating policy. In the industrialized West, then socialism is coming at us in other ways that effectively cut off individual freedom and economic freedom.

    You don’t need legal title if you regulate and restrict the use of private property and tax away much of the benefit of ownership. If you have used education to train the mind to respond from emotion as a matter of habit, you have a citizen who is easy to mislead. All the more useful if socialism is wearing the guise of a Corporatist economy redesigned around the utopian illusion of Sustainability.

    Sustainability is the means for restructuring the means of production and consumption. Education “reforms” take out or remold the noetic systems. shows you how terms that seem innocuous quietly remake the economy, minds, eliminate political freedoms, and everything any Soviet leader ever schemed to obtain in a desire to gain subjugation.

    All designed to be put in place with your tax dollars out of sight before we can protest. As John Goodlad, the education professor and former UNESCO official in the 70s who I mention in the first paragraph, put it last fall:”if the American people understood what was really going on in education, they would be much more upset about that than healthcare.”

    Indeed. Time to try to change that.

  5. John Taylor Gatto's

    The Underground History of American Education

    is what comes to mind.

  6. And....

    scary stuff

  7. Fun stuff in Council today. One critter asked "Do we want our quality of liisfe or Pacific County's"? Then went ont o say that Pacific County spent only $10 or $50k on parks (forget exactly). But we spend $1.2 million. WELL, that's kind of beside the point of Nick Jones' analysis, but the M.O. is definitely divert, distract, dismiss. No one was complaining about parks spending. It was about senior management salaries and County employee benefit rates. It was about stupid programs that not only cost an arm and a leg (oh, it's mostly grant money! which apparently comes from trees somewhere) and oppress our citizens.

  8. That was all before we knew about the $10,000 RAISES GIVEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT through the "personnel study" just done under the watchful eye of County HR. So, who approved the big raises that she and her "significant other" received? County Council, right? I think we should call and write to ask them; they forgot to mention it during Council meetings.