Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's called 'savings' for a reason defines 'savings' as:

5. a reduction or lessening of expenditure or outlay: a saving of 10 percent.
6. something that is saved.
7. savings, sums of money saved by economy and laid away.

Pretty simply, isn't it? Common sense? Definitely. If you have cost 'savings,' it means money not spent.

Except when it comes to politicians - especially in our area.

The most recent example is Lucas County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Ben Konop's idea for garbage.

You see, he doesn't think that anyone over 62 or disabled is capable of putting out their trash on a weekly basis - so government needs to do it for them.

Let's start with the condescending attitude that age equates to infirmity. My parents are both over the age of 62 and are perfectly capable of taking out their garbage, even in bad weather. Now, I recognize that not everyone over 62 is in good health, but to set an age limit doesn't make sense.

It does make sense to address those with disabilities. But if a person has a disability, how are they taking care of their garbage right now? The new cans will have wheels which make them easier to maneuver - and residents have the option of smaller sizes to fit their needs. So the new cans aren't any more difficult than whatever is being used right now by people with disabilities.

The suggestion that people with disabilities need help might also be offensive to those with disabilities who prefer to think of themselves as 'differently abled' and who have made accommodations for such routine tasks as taking out their garbage.

Konop also suggests that it's not 'morally right' to 'force' someone to take care of their garbage:

"It's not morally right to force a 95-year-old grandmother in the city of Toledo living alone to take one of these to the curb by herself," Mr. Konop said, pointing out the increased difficulty of doing it in winter.

This is the same Konop who thinks he has 'no moral obligation' to appear on WSPD radio, so I'm not sure about his judgment when it comes to 'moral' issues. But even if you think he's right about the grandmother, does that mean that you and I need to pay taxes in order to meet what Konop believes is a 'moral obligation'? (And just how many of these grandmothers do we actually have in Toledo????) Aye, there's the rub...and the point of this post.

He didn't have a cost estimate. "If there are additional costs, I think we can generate it from savings," he said.

I do not understand why it is that politicians, and Konop in particular, think that finding savings in government operations means that the money can be spent in another way that they think is equally, or more, important.

Konop has suggested savings in county government operations in the past - some of which I believe deserve further examination and discussion. But he didn't want to have savings in order to reduce the overall cost of government. No, he wanted those savings so he could spend the money on his pet projects (can you say government funded scholarships). And his suggestion for his latest 'bold, fresh, new' proposal is to again use taxpayer funds for what he thinks is a better use.

Konop isn't the only one - politicians do this all the time. They decide they want X so they take money from Y or generate 'savings' from cutting Z and then put the money toward what they want (or what they've told their constituents they can get them) and they think all is well. Obviously, if government has the money it needs to spend it. Heaven forbid that they actually return any of it to the taxpayer who provided it. And they only look for 'savings' when they have another need for the funds - they rarely, if ever, decide to reduce the cost and size of government 'just because' it's the right thing to do.

What they all fail to realize (or maybe they do realize and just don't care) is that savings created should not be spent in the first place - they should be used for either the long-term needs of the mandated - and limited - functions of government, to cover down times like we're having now so we jurisdictions don't end up laying off police officers, or returned to the public from whence it came.

That's what we all do with savings. Think government will ever learn that lesson?


-Sepp said...

Someone shouls ask Konop "Who took all those senior's trash out BEFORE wheeled garbage cans?"

They either took it out themselves or, kids in the neighborhood helped them out for a buck or two!

I guess the problem is that kid's aren't voting or belong to a union.

Mad Jack said...

From Maggie Thurber: What they all fail to realize (or maybe they do realize and just don't care)

Bull's Eye! Give the little lady a Kewpie doll!

Or some such. The self-justifying bureaucracy know as government will always seek to expand its own authority at the expense of its hosts. That's us. Hosts to a collection of leeches.

For all that I disagree with Ben Konop, Ben is not stupid. He knows what actions are likely to work to get him elected and to expand government. In this case, money saved is both money spent somewhere else as well as money that must be replaced at a later date by higher taxes.

Ben isn't alone.

Why is it that I just got this vivid memory of Willard, along with Ben and his army of rats? Tear 'em up!

I have three cats, all proven hunters, but I think I may see if I can find a nice terrier someplace. One of those toothy little dogs that love to play shake and toss with... rats! Look out, Ben! Chopper is on the loose!

DeeDee Liedel said...

In Sylvania Township, we have worked hard the last couple of years to improve the efficiency of the services we provide to our residents while maintaining a quality level of service. This has resulted in significant cost savings - savings that we are in fact not spending.

For example, in the police department, we have given a 'tax holiday' to township property owners for the last three years, for a total tax not collected of $2.2 million. The last police levy was passed in 2004, and at that time it was projected that the township would be back at the ballot box in 2009 for a new police levy. Our most recent projections show that we will not need a new levy until 2013.

So not only have we collected less than voters approved, we've extended the life of our most recent levy and maintained the same service levels as before. Our response times to urgent 9-1-1 calls are under 3 minutes.

These changes were not easy, as I agree with the impression that if government has money they will spend it. That is the main reason why I insisted on the tax holidays, as opposed to just putting off another new levy.

So 'savings' can be accomplished in government. The politicians just have to have the fortitude to make the tough decisions because it is the right thing to do.

James said...

I'm two years away from having a lot of problems taking out my garbage. Thanks, Ben, for making me feel so helpless and weak.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

When you picture Young Ben, with both parents in tow, turning in his petitions at the Lucas Co. Board of elections and being admonished by his mommy to get a receipt before leaving, you get a pretty good overall impression as to what Young Ben thinks is bold & fresh, as well as what kind (quality) of leader he would make. . .

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