Utah’s debt monster is after us, like a green globby thing chasing us in our dreams. He wants 3.5 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money.
What happened? Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard got it right in a Daily Herald article of May 27, ”…we haven’t been able to control ourselves…”. Interesting. State governments can get out of control, just like the federal government? Who would have thought……. Conservatives fume over bloated federal government, as they should—somebody has to. Those same rants should be aimed at an out-of-control state. Our budget stats have earned us a verbal lashing.
Where is our self-control? It appears our state servants at the Capitol fund what the state shouldn’t fund—all those things the free market should preside over. They ignored the flashing “stop the spending” light on our fiscal fire alarm. By any accounting, we got ourselves into this mess.
Apparently the problem lies with our math–addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, the skills all elementary students learned until recently. (Now, under Common Core, the right answer doesn’t matter, so long as you felt happy while getting it.) New Math was the rage, and Utah bought in.
Addition came first. Utah’s government added powers and duties to its chore chart as it embraced control. According to libertasutah.org we now have ten million words in our state code and 10,403 crimes you can be charged with. That’s nuts! You could commit three felonies a day and never know it. The costs add up for bureaucrats, office space, and enforcement. (Does this sound like the federal government?) We’ve also been “yes men” for federal perks, payoffs and programs, some with bite-back costs at the end. We receive 45.3 % of state revenues from federal sources—more than New York or California. Addition has been huge.
Subtraction came next. All those additions of state power subtracted our earned income. Regulations dinged it further, as every law takes money to enforce. For instance, are you OK with the $1.74 million in bonuses awarded to officials of our empty UTA busses? As government got complicated, Average Joe subtracted his attention, and multiplication settled into the void.
Multiplication has been titanic. With the addition of power and the subtraction of respect for your paycheck, the need for money multiplied. That’s where the 3.5 billion debt comes in. Even in good times we wanted too much, promised too much, and borrowed. Then times got hard. (Doesn’t everyone over 10 know that hard times follow good, so we spend, and save, accordingly?) Ursula Wayman of Utah County got it right as she described her youth in Switzerland, where people avoided debt and saved for unexpected events. Utah should take that as wise counsel. Self-control could have stayed the debtor’s hand. Our interest—the rental fee for greenbacks—has multiplied to half a billion dollars annually to cover our excess. Should we be excited that debt payments should begin to wane in 5 years? Hardly; the pain multiplies over time.
Division offers hope for government math. Legislators, please divide the necessary and legitimate—for example, infrastructure repairs and law enforcement, from the needless and negative, like a million dollars for the Sundance Film Festival (let those who attend fund it) and a half million for Envision Utah, the UN’s ugly Agenda 21 program to take away our private property.
Our elected officials know better. Back up! Get your head on straight, rethink your function (hint: protect, not plunder). Don’t divide our prosperity between the necessary and the needless. Let’s draft our own math: add elected officials who won’t give away the store, subtract out of the equation what’s not government’s to give, and multiply our eyes and ears to supervise state spending Then we can divide greater prosperity among Utahns.
We make math choices in the voting booth. Ask candidates what they plan to add and multiply, and what they can subtract and divide. Vote accordingly. Our state government need not function like a mathematical dunce.