There ought to be a law — or maybe not

Watching the inane way governments operate, we almost are ready to agree with tea partiers that the only good government is a broke government, unable to do anything.

Almost.

Then we see what the same tea party Bible-thumpers have done with those few parts of government they have allowed to continue.

Take, for example, how the federal government has saved the county money by letting it buy yet another new vehicle from the General Services Administration.

With a bid $6,000 lower than what Marion County auto dealers could offer, the considerable number of pennies GSA saved could very well be pound foolish by eliminating sales that pay local salaries to local taxpayers who ultimately end up paying for the vehicle.

State attempts to save money on Medicaid are no better. KanCare, which ought to be renamed Don’tCare, delays payments, freezes eligibility, and even wants advance permission for emergency transports from one hospital to another — something extremely common in rural parts of the state.

Don’tCare is essentially sounding the death knell for such things as the joint Harvey-Marion County services for adults and children with developmental disabilities — people with true, lifelong needs, who already have to get on multi-year waiting lists.

Then there’s Obamacare, which will encourage more employers to cover employees with health insurance. What do you suppose will happen to workplace discrimination by age and gender when employers find out that insurance costs for a 25-year-old male are half those for a 25-year-old female and one-fifth those for a 60-year-old.

If the employer still chooses not to provide insurance, will finding it through the government be as easy as figuring out the seven-page instructions (complete with lengthy Paperwork Reduction Act notice) necessary to prove you’re actually an American and can legally work?

As human beings, we want to help seniors, women, people with disabilities, and those with emergency medical needs. All are valid goals government should pursue. It’s just that whenever it does, it turns good ideas into bad bureaucracy, with new programs that make the U.S. Postal Service look like an efficiently run organization.

Marion’s wonderful new sidewalks, for example, are a source of pride. Too bad they line streets in such disrepair some are afraid to drive on them. The sidewalks came because of a grant — the type of grant the city pays people to try to secure. If all the grant money and the money spent to secure grants could be used to meet the community’s actual pressing needs, would sidewalks have been the choice of what to do?

Is local government any better? We keep hearing the county lament how it doesn’t get enough tax revenue and has too many pressing needs, yet it seems to buy new vehicles even when the old ones aren’t worn out, and it spends huge sums on eye-in-the-sky surveillance systems designed to detect whether wealthy suburbanites have built new swimming pools without paying taxes on them.

“They’re ought to be a law…” is a common refrain these days, whether it involves semi-abandoned vehicles parked in yards, huge vehicles parked in streets, potholes in streets and approaches, or the uncontrollable volume of emailed spam. Should city workers go back to once-a-week trash pickup and make some money for the city by mowing yards with three-foot-high weeds and billing the landowner for their work?

The people who make the decisions got there because you voted for them — or, at least, failed to vote against them. They aren’t going to listen to what we say, but if they want to keep their jobs, they may pay attention to what you do.

So what do you want, Marion? As governments begin making their priority lists for spending your money, what ideas do you have? Share them with us at Box 278, Marion KS 66861, letters@marionrecord.com or facebook.com/MarionCoRecord. We’ll republish the best of them.

— ERIC MEYER

 

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