Role of the Government
Last comment by sebekm 1 year, 10 months ago.

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So...The 64 Million Dollar Question... What should be the role of government in our day to day lives? Ronald Reagan was quoted as saying " Governments Job is Protect the People, not run their Day to Day Lives" Our current times make me feel like we should be "protected" from our government. Currently we are being told that we will have health insurance, we will bear the brunt of the fiscal cliff through taxation, we will allow forgien countries to openly chatise our country and way of life while still receiving money we suppossedly do not have to shore up our own economy. I am sure there will be many different takes on this but I would venture to say that government is too invloved in the day to day life of the citizens it supossedly serves. Government as a whole no longer serves the constituents they were empowered to represent. Everything is a "deal" for the greater good. It is overcompromising and no longer possesses the ability to assign accountability. It is going to take a country to fix this. Thoughts

Latest Activity: Dec 13, 2012 at 4:25 PM

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timeontarget commented on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 16:51 PM

Government serves

Government also rules and meddles in our affairs.

In the last few decades there has been an ever increasing amount of ruling and meddeling and a continuing decline of worthwhile service.

sebekm commented on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 19:26 PM

Government's role nowadays - according to the party in power - is to take care of the people. During President Obama's first term, he "took care of us" with ObamaCare. We are just starting to see some of that fallout. Check out the "news" that hit the streets today:

I've been watching reruns of The Sopranos on HBO Signature the past few nights. It looks to me like the taxpayers of this country are being "taken care of" in the same spirit as some of those families took care of their competition. Bada-bing!

Meannwhile - our former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (you remember her: she's the one who said ObamaCare would have to be ENACTED before we would know all of its provisions and effects), is now getting "bored" with all of this fiscal cliff "stuff."

After presiding over years of government inaction, she is now outraged over how long things are taking? Where was she when they should have passed a BUDGET?

We pay the salaries of these people. We have a right to expect some PRODUCTION out of them.

JimmyMack commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Thoughts: locally I am personally very disappointed in Jason Floyd. A card carrying fical conservative Republican whom I voted for in the last election. Even put one of his signs in my yard. I thought he would stick to his pedigree and fight against more taxes. Yet I see in todays Courier that he would have sided with those councilmen and the Mayor in voting to raise them!!!!

The two dissenting votes were from Democrats, Keith Jenkins and Kenneth Shaw!!!

I just don't get it!?? Jason was supposed to be a breath of fresh air. Or so I thought.

We Hinesville tax-payers are in voter hell. We cannot win, it seems, no matter the party or person we vote to represent us.

HMJC commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM

This was kind of the point I was trying to solicit. We vote and PAY people to represent us and after the ball drops; here come the taxes. This is serious on a local, state, and national level. The current taxation combined with the projected rise in taxes is devestating the individuals that actually pay taxes. There in lies a majority of the problem. Taxes are not being expanded to affect all, it is passing on further tax burdon to try to finance previous failed policies. It does not seem that the government is searching for ways for all to do their fair share. Its frustrating to say the least as any gains I have received finacially have been taxed at a higher rate. I worked for that, it was not given to me. My reward, and ineffective government and more taxes.

sebekm commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 14:55 PM

Re: Jason Floyd. He's my district councilman, too, and I also read his comments in today's print Courier. Unfortunately, it's now essentially "spilt milk," and they claim without raising taxes they have to cut essential services or lay off/fire city workers. I assume that some city workers are NOT "essential" in the sense that people will suffer harm or die if they are laid off or let go. Good luck in getting that level of detail.

When they run unopposed, I imagine that they think they can do what they want with relatively little consequences. The mayor can't run next time due to term limits, so he has more "flexibility" - with only his conscience as his guide for the next couple of years.

Like the fiscal cliff (or the threat of it), perhaps what this community needs is to feel the effects of their local politicians in their pocketbooks before they are inspired to vote for change. I see in a recent letter to the editor where someone new is considering running for city council. Those of us who want change need to make sure we support those people in order to get them elected. Only by changing the players will we have any change in the results.

timeontarget commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 15:39 PM

Did the two councilemen who voted no vote to approve the budget???

Can you approve a budget without raising the millage?

sebekm commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 17:49 PM

I believe the short answer is "yes" to both questions.

I thought I read that the budget had been approved unanimously. The budget itself and the funding sources are two separate issues. The budget lists the requirements. Then you figure out how to pay for them. If available funds are insufficient, you prioritize and fund until the money runs out - or until you find more $$. In government, raising taxes is always one way for them to "find" more money to cover shortfalls ("unfunded priorities").

timeontarget commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 18:51 PM

I believe the short answer is yes to the first question.

I don't think any answer is yes to the second question.

Let's think about it.

sebekm commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 19:28 PM

I have. The answer to the second question is "yes," because the budget only sets out requirements. The funding is later matched to those requirements.

In this process, an agency lists its "requirements" without regard to funding. Requirements are supposed to be things you absolutely NEED (as opposed to "would be nice to have"). From year to year, the highest priority requirements ordinarily get funded (when funds are available) and you go down the priority list until the money runs out.

I'm sure that city governnments use some variation of this process. There are requirements that carry over from year-to-year (such as salaries, equipment contracts, rent, supplies), but these are supposed to be "scrubbed" frequently to assure that only things that are "needed" are funded.

In sum: first you decide what you absolutely NEED and those get included in the budget. Figuring out where the money is coming from to pay for the requirements is a separate but related process. The first part is oftentimes easier than the second part, especially in austere times. But it clearly is possible to say "yes" to what the requirements are. However, if the money isn't there - and in this case you have to vote to raise TAXES - I can see where the same folks who voted "yes" on the budget could vote either "yes" or "no" in good conscience on the tax issue.

sebekm commented on Friday, Dec 14, 2012 at 19:38 PM

Note: This is the simplified version of what our federal government is supposed to do when they formulate a budget. In my opinion, the reason that the Democrats haven't wanted to submit/vote on a budget is that then they would actually have to identify what they believe are those requirements that are actually needed and prioritize them. This process is public and what they think is important - and not important - would be in the newspapers and on the airways. This runs the risk of offending REGISTERED VOTERS whose projects, special interests, entitlements, or benefits are NOT at the top of the budget priority list and wouldn't get funded without increased federal borrowing and probably increased federal debt.

Up until 2009, our federal government - no matter which party was in power - at least had the guts to put forth a budget and take the heat. Rather than being "lazy" as portrayed, I believe the Dems don't want a budget as a calculated political move. IMHO - this action undercuts the process that was put in place as part of our governmental "checks and balances." We see the result with out-of-control spending and debt.

The Democratic party solution is to raise taxes and to raise the debt limit. Also IMHO - to continue this cycle only makes the hole we have to dig out of deeper and deeper.

timeontarget commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 05:25 AM

I'm not sure but I think by law the city like the State is required to have a balanced budget.

If that is the case anyone who approved the budget therefore approved the tax increase.

The two Democrats who disapproved the tax increase after having approved the budget are simply grandstanding.

That is if they in fact had voted their approval of the budget.

I think Kenny Shaw has been seen doing this little bit of fakery in the past.

Also I think that the Mayor and Council are non-partisan.

Just thoughts.

sebekm commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM

The problem is that even where the law requires a balanced budget, they can play tricks with the numbers (essentially cheat) to make it appear that things are balanced. But it's better to have the balanced budget law than not, because without it, they are totally out of control.

timeontarget commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM

I agree that it is better to have a balanced budget law than not.

If you voted to approve the budget you are the culpret who caused the tax increase.

The vote on raising the millage is simply to facilitate the budget.

Any council person who voted against raising the millage is a clown who does not understand how the government he is supposed to be managing is operated.

sebekm commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 13:02 PM

"If you voted to approve the budget you are the culpret who caused the tax increase."

Not necessarily. That's my point. In government, the budget involves identifying what "needs" to be done and prioritizing them. Just because there might not be money for something doesn't mean that it doesn't "need to be done." That's a separate process from allocating funds to actually cause things to get done. It's similar but not the same as a household or small business budget. In government, there are several steps in the process.

My point is that when a city councilman agrees that something NEEDs to get done and "votes it into the budget," that's a separate step from what happens later when they actually decide what WILL be done and allocate/find the money to pay for it. Just because you might not have money to pay for something doesn't make it any less of a NEED, if that's what actually has been determined.

You have to think of (1) devising the budget and (2) allocating/finding the money to pay for items on it it as two separate steps in the process.

Think of it as a homeowner who has a leaky roof, a leaky hot water heater, a 30 year-old air conditioning system that still works and a refrigerator that no longer functions. If the homeowner was a city government, the first thing he would do is to make a prioritized list of "most important" to "least important" things that need to be done. That's Step 1. Then homeowner looks at his cash flow/bank reserves and decides what he can afford to get done. That's Step 2.

In sum: In city government, making the list and "approving" what is needed is Step 1 in the budget process. The funding allocation is Step 2. When they have too many "must be done" things for the money they have coming in, that's when they tell you they need more "revenue" (i.e., raise taxes.). But just because somebody agrees that something needs to be done doesn't make them a "culprit" in causing a tax increase.

timeontarget commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 15:05 PM

I think we all need to get better acquainted with how the millage rate is determined.

sebe I have to differ with you on this.

Research the process for determining the millage rate.

JimmyMack commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 15:17 PM

AMAZING!! TOT advising Sebe 'to research the process.'

TOT: it is NOT Sebe that is in need of advice. He does his homework.

It is you TOT whom is in need. But it is not ADVICE that you need. No sirree Bob. You, TOT, need to be caged and studied.

sebekm commented on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 at 18:56 PM

TOT: Millage rate determinations are part of step 2 in coming up with the money to pay for step 1. You're missing my one and only point in all of this. That is that prioritizing items for the budget, and then later deciding how to fund those items on the budget are two separate things. The same people may be doing them. But when somebody votes to make an item a priority on the budget - and then later votes either to fund or not to fund that particular item - there is no inconsistency in their actions. It doesn't make them a "culprit" either way.

Now, my experience is a bit dated; but I can't imagine that the process is significantly different now that was back when I worked on budgets for the government before the turn of the century. It may be more automated, but you still have to determine your requirements and then find ways to pay for them.

timeontarget commented on Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 at 08:20 AM

Thanks, I believe we are making some progress.

"but you still have to determine your requirements and then find ways to pay for them."

If an item is put into the budget and approved is there any other way to fund it besides imposing a tax on the citizens?

timeontarget commented on Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 at 08:31 AM

I know it is simple mindedness on my part but the way it appears to me is as follows.

If the council approves something in the budget and it is adopted it will trigger a tax increase if there are no other sources of revenue.

For a member of the council to approve a budget and then vote against the acceptance of the funds to support it that council person is simply grandstanding.

Such was the case with the two councilmen who voted against the raising of the millage.

sebekm commented on Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Part I:

"If an item is put into the budget and approved is there any other way to fund it besides imposing a tax on the citizens."

Yes - they can cut something else that was previously approved for funding. It's the same process that the federal government is hashing through now. The Republicans - *generally* - are saying that increased expenditures should be paid for by minimal (if no) tax increases but mainly by cutting other expenses/programs and using that money which was previously allocated to those things cut. The Democrats - *generally* - are saying that increases in expenditures should be paid for by increased revenues (taxes), and that we can't cut too much else from previously approved programs/expenditures.

"For a member of the council to approve a budget and then vote against the acceptance of the funds to support it that council person is simply grandstanding."

Not necessarily. The thing I failed to mention above is that just because something is included in a budget doesn't mean that it's going to get funded/done. That's how it works in government. The budget is simply a list of REQUIRMENTS that those who put together and approve the budget believe are necessary. But they put together that list - and they SHOULD do it this way - without regard to whether everything on it will be actually funded. It is a prioritized list with the "top item" being most important and must be done/funded, and the "bottom" or last item being something that is still *necessary*, but less important than all of the things listed in priority order above it.

sebekm commented on Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Part II:

The government budget process is an ongoing, year-round cycle and other funding sources - such as federal grants or cancellation of other projects already funded - occasionally makes money available after a budget has been formally "approved." In this case - since they already have their "priority list" prepared - they can simply apply the newly-available funds to other, lower priorities down the list. This frequently happens. If they didn't prepare a complete, prioritized list of necessities beforehand, they'd have to go back, reassemble, rehash priorities, re-vote several times a year just to apply the "new money" to something that was already an "approved" priority.

This is a process that has been in place - with variations - at various levels of government for a long time. It's a topic which most people might read about to help them go to sleep at night. Here's a pretty good web site which is put out by the State of Indiana as a guide for "local government" budget formulation. It's the long - LONG - story on what I've been trying to describe above and apply to your comments:

Soooooooo - it's not necessarily "grandstanding" for somebody to agree that things are important/needed and should be included in a budget, and later vote "no" when the only option to doing some of them is to raise taxes.

Now - remember also that I'm saying all of this just to give them the benefit of the doubt, and putting myself in their shoes. Knowing how the process works, I - personally - would have no problem in voting for a prioritized list of everything "needed," and then later saying NO NEW TAXES when it came to whether all things would be actually funded.

timeontarget commented on Monday, Dec 17, 2012 at 06:51 AM

Thanks again.

Still tho if they voted to approve the entire budget they therefore approved the raising of the millage.

Because they by law (I think) are required to have a balanced budget.

They could have helped to balance it by voting to roll back their salaries to the previous amounts.

I'll bet that the two Democrats who voted no on the millage have been accepting their monthly paychecks.

sebekm commented on Monday, Dec 17, 2012 at 12:22 PM

"Still tho if they voted to approve the entire budget they therefore approved the raising of the millage."

If that were the case, they wouldn't have had to vote TWICE. I know it might not make sense in the context of a small business or a household, but the government budgetary process is layered and sequential, and includes those "checks and balances" and numerous steps. The process is outlined in that State of Indiana link I included in my above post.

But think about it: If voting to approve the entire budget made a millage increase automatic, why would they have had a separate public vote later on? The subsequent public vote only opened them up to the kinds of attacks and criticism you see in this blog and in the newpaper. It's common sense that if a second vote was unnecessary, they wouldn't have had one - especially when they knew a public vote to raise taxes would upset a lot of voters.

No - I've failed again in getting my point across: Voting to approve the budget IS NOT a vote to fund every element of it - nor is it a vote to identify funding sources or to raise taxes. Those are separate actions - and they need to be to keep the "checks and balances" in place and to run the budget cycle "by the rules."

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