Several times over the last few days I’ve heard on the news how the city is getting ready to lay people off.  The reporter always notes lower sales tax revenues and property taxes are the reasons for the city wide layoffs.  On the surface that seems reasonable.

But the whole thing rubs me the wrong way.  My first thought is “If the city can run on less, then why weren’t they doing this the whole time?“  I mean, you’ve all seen the scene on the side of the road.  Three guys standing around while one guy is working.  It shows me the government is no different than my neighbor.  Spending just because they can, no plan, no restraint, money burning a hole in their municipal pockets.  Except I get no secret pleasure when the city has to cut back, like I did when my neighbor put a for sale sign on his Hummer.

Secondly,  wouldn’t it be nice of while the private sector was booming the government was holding back.  If the government would lay people off while jobs were plentiful and growth was abounding it wouldn’t hurt so much.  Those people could easily find jobs.  Meanwhile the government could try to mitigate the private sector’s rapid growth.  Attempt to hold that pendulum from swinging too far. They could sit back and collect their nice big tax revenues and save (ha. ha.) for times like right now.

Then when that pendulum comes screaming back the other way and the private sector beings to struggle, the government could then inject all their savings into the economy.  They could call it a stimulus package if they wanted! They could be hiring right now, rather then laying people off.  They could be building roads, expanding programs, spending money, and creating jobs.  The government could be helping to fix the economy in a real and local way.

Take my neighborhood for example.  My house was built in 2004.  Literally a mile away they were also building a new freeway.  Now, it should have taken 3 months to build my house.  But it took 7 because labor and materials were so hard to come by.  We had to wait for concrete for the foundation, then we had to wait for framers to be available, and on and on.  If the government had restricted their building they wouldn’t be right in there competing for these precious resources.  They could let the private sector have the workers and materials.  Imagine if they were building that freeway right now.  Think of the jobs they could be providing, of the business they would be helping.

But instead the government is struggling right there with the rest of us.  It’s too bad.

pic by: Rick

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