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Government bites the hand that feeds | Angie Vogt
The state of Washington is struggling mightily with a budget deficit. Olympia seems surprised and stressed by this situation, even though had any one of us operated our home budgets in the same way that Gov. Christine Gregoire and the Democrats have operated our state budget, we would be living on the streets, in bankruptcy court and in foreclosure.
As a reminder, Gregoire increased spending by 33 percent her first two years in office. Have the citizens enjoyed a 33 percent increase in benefits from government? More police protection? More library services? Better classrooms with better textbooks? Better roads and highways? More people helped out of poverty? More children protected by abusers? Better water and air quality? The state auditing process is helping us to answer that question: No.
I've seen no mention of cutting her expanded staff or any of the 33 percent that she added to our shoulders when times were good. In the meantime, the Legislature is sweating it out with proposals to increase revenue and cut spending. The usual threats of cutting off necessary spending (along with the images of long bread lines and orphans walking the streets) are part of their rhetoric as they refuse to address their own corrupt allegiance to biggest drain on our treasury, the public unions.
Unions have been a good tool for ensuring good wages and benefits for many private sector industries. The public sector unions, though, threaten the very viability of the government. The only reason they are catered to by Democrats, of course, is that they are their biggest source for campaign donations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 2009 saw local, state and federal public union jobs increase by 64,000 — while the private sector has had to let go of 3.4 million jobs. For the first time in American history, the majority of union members are employed by the government. The source for their paychecks depends on the private sector, which is shrinking due to government's ever increasing harassment of businesses.
This is what is so dangerous about liberal policy. It literally seeks to expand government and impoverish the private sector. The reason for this should be obvious to students of history. When government expands, its power grows. When the private sector shrinks, it has a smaller voice and less influence on government. Government harassment of private business threatens the liberty of every citizen. This is why conservatives believe so strongly in private enterprise. A free economy yields a free society.
A friend of mine who operates a large business in South King County decided a year ago to improve one of his large automobile service facilities. Before pounding the first nail, he paid close to $1.5 million in regulation compliance, such as required ecology studies, growth management impact studies and permitting from the city. There was an investigation into the treatment of an old gas tank on the property that was required because the state lost the information necessary. The study turned out to be unnecessary, as the tank had been treated properly after all, but that was only after my friend doled out money for the study. The permit took 18 months. During a final inspection, city officials determined that one of the metal toolboxes needed to be bolted to the ground for earthquake purposes. Of course, the bolting down of the toolbox had to be performed by an architect-approved person with certain approved bolts. That process alone, of hiring the architect for this job, was another $6,000.
But wait, there's more. The city had to approve of the landscaping to the point of dictating exactly which plants were approved and which ones were not, followed by specific requirements for a sprinkler system deemed sufficient to keep the plants alive. That process was another $160,000.
Recently, President Obama met with some bankers and chided them for not giving out easier loans to businesses. The dirty little secret is that few people are applying for business loans. Businesses are afraid to expand and hire more people because under the current climate — the only sectors growing are government sectors. This is what was behind the onerous "cap and trade" legislation passed by the U.S. Congress last year and what is behind Gregoire's "green job" initiatives. They redirect public money to increase public obligation. Then they express outrage when Boeing starts to move out of state.
The incredibly shrinking private sector will eventually cause the collapse of the government. It's a classic case of government biting the hands that feeds it.