Thursday, May 14, 2015

I was a dumb___. And so is Governor Walker.

When I was a struggling young man trying to get an education and a good job I did a dumb thing: I withdrew my share of my Wisconsin Retirement Fund account.  I got something like $5,000.  It did help with some law school expenses.  But here's the thing.

Later it cost me $14,000 to buy back that service.  Heck, I could have borrowed $5,000 for less than my stupid mistake cost me in the end.

Our absentee governor makes similar mistakes.  

The state is in financial trouble.  Now we can finger point until the cows come home but it doesn't change the facts.  And it never ceases to amaze me how politicians are afraid to tell the people the truth: there is no free lunch.

Are the prices at Wal-Mart and Target the same as they were ten years ago?  Seldom will that be true. When it costs more for goods and services those costs are passed along.  I wish I could tell Wal-Mart that it seems wrong that they increased the price of my shaving cream 29% -- more than the rate of inflation.

Nobody likes paying taxes.  Even worse is when tax money is squandered.   But there's no free lunch and certainly it's stupid to play games and gimmicks with people.  The tax relief the average person got was a pittance compared to what high rollers raked in.  And it was false economy.

Taxes, at least on the local level, are like your condo association.  They figure out how much it'll cost to provide services for the common good and divide it.  If prices go up, well, you can plan on an increase in your association fees, like it or not.

The alternative, of course, is to defer what needs to be done until, guess what, it costs more!  Which would you rather have -- a $200 filling or a $1,000 crown?

There is only so much you can cut.  And what we've been doing is to avoid making the repairs and investments needed in our state.  In other words, we're buying $1,000 crowns -- maybe more expensive with inflation -- when we could have bought $200 fillings.  

Plus, there's an old adage, "You gotta spend money to make money."  Business 101.

Money this state doesn't put into education is money taken away from future economic growth and education, particularly at the post-secondary level (colleges and universities).  We don't spend money here, folks -- we invest it.

Our governor and the mindless bobbleheads in the Republican caucus don't get it.  They'll throw a few pennies at the masses but the cost down the road will be much more.  And the bobbleheads lack the spines to stand up and remind the governor that the legislature is a coequal branch of government and actually does share power.

Kicking the can down the road and short-term economic solutuons rarely produce long-term benefits.  We need to be buying $200 crowns in fixing our infrastructure.  And we need to be investing in the future.  And that might mean raising some taxes or, at a minimum, abandoning schemes to give out money we don't have.

I learned the hard way how much it costs when you make dumb___ economic decisions.  Our absentee governor perhaps demonstrates his disdain for education by rejecting his own.


Anonymous said...

Lower taxes likewise do not make the economy better. Laffer and his napkin were wrong. Maybe, someday, that myth will die. But I doubt it. Too many people have too much money invested in it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Walker's choice to deficit spend is for his political benefit at our economic expense.

old baldy said...

Thanks for the post. I'm on the county board in a rural northern county. Folks aren't going to get their snow plowed or roads paved unless they come to the realization that public services cost money. And the longer you delay fixing a problem the more it will cost. Local government and school districts in the rural parts of the state are stuck between massive cuts in state aides and limited ability to increase the revenue stream.

I will relish the day when I can tell the big Walker/Tiffany supporter down the street that his road won't get plowed as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground.