Friday, November 28, 2008

Here's the frightening part

I told you I would come back with some frightening numbers on where your tax dollars are spent.
Are you sitting down? You really should be.
Pennsylvania spent a whopping $108.3 billion in the 2005-06 fiscal year, according to the Commonwealth Foundation, and is expected to increase spending to $130 billion by the 2010-11 fiscal year. That's right. That's a billion with a 'b.'
Any time anyone starts talking in the billions I lose track. I can’t even imagine what a billion of anything looks like. So, thanks to the good folks at the Commonwealth Foundation, I’m going to break it down for you.
The state spent, in the 2005-06 fiscal year, $4,312 for every man, woman and child in the state. Really?
But it gets better. For the same year local governments spent an average of $4,378 for every man, woman and child in their respective municipalities. Seriously?
Unfortunately, I am serious. By the way, this amounts to an increase in government spending, on just the local and state level, by a little more than 98 percent since the 1991-92 fiscal year.
Governments have no reason to rein in their own spending. All they have to do if they need more money is increase taxes, and we all know how good they are at doing that.
I think it’s time to start a movement that requires a referendum on any local or state spending that goes beyond the rate of inflation.
Our federal government is a monstrosity. Did you know there are more than 14 million people working for our federal government?
Pennsylvania alone employs more than 80,000 people, according to our state’s own recruiting Web site.
That's right, the state government is so big it has its own recruiting Web site.
So, let's kick it up a notch, folks.
Government is simply getting out of hand, no matter what level you look at.

25 comments:

joe the nerd said...

Yes Stan,
The numbers are frightening.

PA has 12,440,000 people and 80,000 are employed by the state. That is 1 state employee for every 155 people. By population that is well under 1/10th of 1% of the population. I don’t know if that’s good or not.

Instead of blanket statements, why not put each Department up for grabs and make a case why it should or should not exist.
There are some easy ones out there, like the LCB. But do you really want to cut DEP? I know if you go after the Department of Aging you’ll be asking for problems.

Yes it easy to go after the schools, since kids don’t vote.

Do we need each Department or not?


The numbers that frighten me more are the trillions, that’s with a “T” that have been flushed down the Iraqi over the last 8 years. Where is the questioning on that? All it did was create recruiting opportunities for Islamofacists who point at us as colonizers.

Stan said...

Joe,

Stop being such a nerd, and stop trying to steer the conversation. Instead of always trying to tell me what I should be writing about why not try to contribute to what is written. If I simply tell everyone everything there will be no outrage. However, if people start doing a little homework for themselves and see just where their money is going perhaps some real change can take place.

Tom Borai, Audubon said...

Stan, July 2005 I wrote a letter to the Editor about a 16% pay increase for the 253 hard worked representatives and Senators in Harrisburg. These automatic cost of living increases have to stop.

My solution then has not changed.

A referendum on the amount of Representatives and Senators. Cut the size of the house in half and make these hard working public servants earn their keep. Just imagine half of the office space, half of the state owned cars burning gas on our higways, and half of the 23 million plus in salaries and perks, etc,etc,etc.
It's the taxpayers of this great state that should be making the decision - these gifts should not be self bestowed.

Personally, I do not know how this would be established.

I'll leave that to your readers, and maybe they will have some suggestions.

The Senator and Represenative in my district do a super job.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you post the websites/threads so we can read them and decide for ourselves whether the state, etc. is wasting taxpayers' money. A lot of people think helping the homeless, which includes vets, a waste of money. But then I read that I should be thankful for these same vets. If I should be, so should a lot of others, and they should be helped mentally, physically and with a place to stay until they are able to get back on their feet.

The oil war has cost US taxpayers billions with a "B" and included in that is the salaries of the "weekend warriors" who had "real" jobs in addition to the National Guard jobs. When you take their "real" job earnings out of the picture, you have a corresponding loss of "buying" power for houses, vehicles, vacations, etc. Companies tried to pay these "warriors" their salaries for a time, but after a couple of years, they couldn't afford that and the replacement costs of new people to try to keep their companies going.

Add to that the tax reduction for the rich, which didn't help the economy. Yes, there are a few people who do actually contribute some of their wealth to help the less fortunate, but there are also the "Leona Helmsleys" who left the bulk of their fortunes to their dogs, etc.

So, I think a more comprehensive thought-out discussion is needed here.

Montco PA Dem said...

Stan, you're right. People should do a little homework.

I took your advice to heart and I studied up on the source for all your "frightening statistics." I think you stacked the deck on us.

The Commonwealth Foundation, far from being an impartial observer, is a biased, far-right organization that's largely funded by Pittsburgh zillionaire wacko Richard Mellon Scaife. Backed by its wingnut millions, the Commonwealth Foundation launches a continuous barrage of propaganda to advance right-wing causes -- including the line that government is big, bloated and some sort of enemy that must be battled.

The thing that gets overlooked by all of these right-wing anti-government kooks -- from Ann Coulter, who called Democrats who opposed the war "traitors", to Grover Norquist, who vowed that conservatives aim to shrink government to the point where they "can drown it in a bathtub", to the slanted propaganda from Scaife and his phony foundations -- is the very core of what American government is: "We the People." Not some entity set apart. It is us. To paraphrase Lincoln, it is of us, by us, and (most importantly in my book) for us.

If government has grown bigger, it is because we as a nation have grown bigger, and more complex, and more diverse.

If you want government to work more efficiently, that's a great goal, one that we can all support. But when you start attacking all spending and calling government "a monstrosity," well I think you've gone over the line.

I'm proud of my country and I'm proud of my government. But I'll be damned if I'll stand by and let people continually attack it for doing the job we need it to do. Government is a necessity, and it is made up of my friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. I think overall, "We the People" are doing a pretty good job.

A Korean Vet said...

Sounds like the Montco Pa.Dem is part of the establishment. Must have a government job. I guess he is sponsoring the 250,000 jobs our newly elected president is going to add to the government rolls.
It's nice to sit back,wave your flag,what are you doing to improve the situation?

Anonymous said...

Working for the Government - In Washington alone we have the Military that is now and has been the majority employer. Many are now Reps. (Double-Dipping)and Want-a-Bes' because they retired and feel that only they are capable of running the country. If we are in need of help from military personnel, or spouse of former Federal Employees, it should be on a volunteer basis, shared opinions, so that all departments can benefit from their training while with the Government or time served for the Gov. has not been wasted. It is What You Can Do For Your Country not What Our Country Can Do For You!

Anonymous said...

Stan, the best way to shrink government is to make it pay as it goes. If everyone's federal taxes doubled tomorrow, do you seriously believe we'd be in Iraq? Or bailing out everything that moves?

Of course not.

The United States is like an 18 year old with a platinum AmEx card. As long as nobody cuts up the card, why be accountable?

Montco PA Dem said...

Korea Vet -- First off, thank you for your service. And guess what...as a vet, you were once part of that big ol', bad ol' government you're moaning about. So let's make sure if we're cutting, we get rid of all those nasty veterans benefits that you got or may still be getting. (Of course I'm not in favor of that; just pointing out that government works for everybody...even you, KV.)

Is there waste in government? Sure. But that doesn't make government a bad thing, or something you should work against, or, in Stan's words, "a monstrosity." And it doesn't mean that we should automatically take the word of a far-right "foundation" that is dedicated to the ideals of people who hate government.

Personally, I think that's pretty unpatriotic and that's why it offends me.

Oh -- and no, not a government employee at all. Just somebody who knows that government solves way more problems than it creates, despite the fact that it's big, clunky and not fun to deal with.

The sybil said...

We should all be outraged over "wasteful spending" by any level of government, but in all fairness, we need to pick our battles. We have much less control over federal and state spending than we do over local spending.

One problem with limiting spending to the rate of inflation is that in many cases a government entity that formerly kept its increases low, or even zero, will see that as an invitation to add to its wish list just because they can. It already happens with school boards.

Okay, not trying to steer the conversation. We all have had experienced rude and lazy government employees at some point in our lives, maybe daily, but before we scream about the numbers, let's think about some of the things that some of these "government employees" do--they deliver our mail, protect our lives, protect our property, both public and private, inspect our food and drug supplies, maintain our roads and bridges, and care for our indigent elderly and handicapped. They also educate our young adults who attend state colleges and universities,and staff our courts, hospitals, and libraries.

There's more, but no point in getting into the departments, agencies, and jobs that some people may or may not consider necessary. (I personally think we could do without the IRS).

A government and its agencies exist in order to do collectively what we cannot easily do alone. The people who want to live alone in log cabins, hunt, fish, and grow all of their own crops for food and medicine, and defend themselves with long range rifles do just that. The rest of us need other people to help. Many of the "other people" are paid from our tax money and in turn they buy things and pay taxes, too.

The Sybil

Anonymous said...

Gotta love all those people who point to the money being spent on the war in Iraq as an 'oil war'. In my observation, most of the people doing the bitching about this are tooling around town in Hummers, Escalades and Expeditions. Seems a bit hypocritical doesn't it? I guess what they mean is, we should cut all government spending that doesn't benefit them personally.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Gotta love all those people who point to the money being spent on the war in Iraq as an 'oil war'. In my observation, most of the people doing the bitching about this are tooling around town in Hummers, Escalades and Expeditions. Seems a bit hypocritical doesn't it? I guess what they mean is, we should cut all government spending that doesn't benefit them personally.

December 1, 2008 11:23 AM

-------------------------------

I have to wonder who you are observing. Probably using the same calculations that were used to say that Detroit Autoworkers are making $70 an hour.

I mentioned this before. The Bus lobbyists and the tire making lobbyists got the trains off of the Bay Bridge years ago and now it would be too costly to retrofit that bridge to go back to trains.

But the $10 billion a month for the "oil war" could go to adding alternative energy "fill up" stations to encourage people to buy hybrids, too.

Korean Vet said...

Montco Pa. Dem.

Your thank you thoughts are not welcomed with this vet. I was fortunate that my time spent in the military did not require any of the benefits your speaking of.
You speak of people being unpatriotic, maybe you should send your blog to the VA hospitals. Visit a few, ask the vets how they are coping with their prosthesis,or why they can not see the person who is addresing them. Tell them the benefits they are receiving are not deserved. You are a real piece of work!

Montco PA Dem said...

KV -- You missed the point. Please go read again.

MPD

joe the nerd said...

OK Stan,
I relinquished the steering wheel for a couple of days, and guess what – the blog is driving in the proper direction.

You are so blinded by your anti-government position, that instead of giving props to the state for having a recruitment web site that seems pretty clear and functional, you rip for even existing. This is the 21st century. If you want government run as a business, why tear it down when it does? Most businesses have web sites for recruitment, why is it unusual for any entity over 100 people to have some type of portal like this? How should state recruitment be managed in the world of “Kill the Government”?

It is good to see there are a lot of people out there who don’t think the government is a big, mean, awful, thing. The government actually does stuff. It takes care of educating our kids, services our vets, and helps our elderly. It is nice to see there are citizens who actually appreciate some of what it does.
That doesn’t make us crazy or liberal or conservative or moderate; but concerned for the common good.

Where you are now living is called “The COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania”. That means we try to do things for the COMMON good.

What I find outrageous is your coverage of the castorizing and mollicification of our public processes. Castorizing is when a public official puts his party ahead of the common good for political points. Having seen the operation of a County Commissioners meeting for myself first hand, I am appalled at what your coverage yielded. I watched Bruce Castor, whom I bullet voted for, make a mockery of getting the county’s business performed. All your paper did was fawn over how he wouldn’t vote to allow a Democrat to be hired by the county. Never mind the Democrat was more than qualified for the position, as described by the department head putting the person’s name forward . (He evidently already saved the county a couple of million bucks.) The press is more than happy to go after the stupid party politics that drive people away from the system.

Forget that Castor will never get my vote again for his childish behavior; my outrage is with you for the inane coverage of the meeting and the continual hassling of the two county commissioners who are actually doing their jobs. They are doing their jobs as public officials’ first and not being a bunch of party hacks.

Mollicification is the process of attacking every dime that is spent, down to the paper clips. Never mind that people who practice this art rarely get elected. That is because those spending the monies effectively make the case why they need to spend money on said paper clips. Those who practice mollicification are people who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

Allowing the extended coverage of this behavior at the Methacton School Board has led to a siege mentality. I am sure if you ask current and former members of the board if your coverage of proceedings been fair, you would get an earful. I personally think that your coverage created the environment where physical altercations have occurred (costing the chairman of the board his position) and one school board member has chosen to step down.

It is within YOUR control as editor of the paper. When you give 24 column inches of space (more than most of your syndicated columnists) to someone who continually bashes Democrats or anyone who thinks differently that her, you are part of the problem.

You are simply stirring the pot.

That is the outrage.

Korean Vet said...

MPD.

I did not miss the point,it was well taken..thus my reply. Sad.

KV

Montco PA Dem said...

KV - Then please tell me where I ever said that veterans benefits were "not deserved."

Here is the exact quote:

"...as a vet, you were once part of that big ol', bad ol' government you're moaning about. So let's make sure if we're cutting, we get rid of all those nasty veterans benefits that you got or may still be getting. (Of course I'm not in favor of that; just pointing out that government works for everybody...even you, KV.)"

What's sad is that some people have apparently lost the ability to read. Either that, or they deliberately twist words or ignore them altogether.

Rico McBride said...

Stan,

Isn't Joe Ferraro on The Times Herald Advisory Board? Why doesn't he just call you rather than blast you on the blog?

Anonymous said...

No, here's the frightening part, if the following is true, maybe people can sue president-select shrub for not only losing their homes, but wasting so much taxpayer's money in Iraq that there isn't any "real" money to fix the economy. Talk about being out of control... I still think shrub is a major cause of this economic fiasco. 120108 3:20 p.m.

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - December 1, 2008 -- The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.
"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.
Bowing to aggressive lobbying - along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK - regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.

Last week, Downey Savings joined the growing list of failed banks. The problem: About 52 percent of its mortgage portfolio was tied up in risky option ARMs, which in 2006 Downey insisted were safe - maybe even safer than traditional 30-year mortgages.
"To conclude that 'nontraditional' equates to higher risk does not appropriately balance risk and compensating factors of these products," said Lillian Gavin, the bank's chief credit officer.
At least some regulators didn't buy it. The comptroller of the currency, John C. Dugan, was among the first to sound the alarm in mid-2005. Speaking to a consumer advocacy group, Dugan painted a troublesome picture of option-ARM lending. Many buyers, particularly those with bad credit, would soon be unable to afford their payments, he said. And if housing prices declined, homeowners wouldn't even be able to sell their way out of the mess.

120308 12:22 p.m. ssdd in Montco

Anonymous said...

It is nice ssdd prefers to quote articles written about some bank, not local, that went under because of poor loaning proceedures. Our Local Banks here in Montgomery County and Chester County that have been around for many years always make sure any loan is backed by securities and a work history that qualifies a person as a good credit risk. Check your bank, if you are indoubt, the formula banks follow will make you a believer that risky management is not a common day-to-day procedure in the normal Banking Business. Most all Banks do not participate in "Bundling".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
It is nice ssdd prefers to quote articles written about some bank, not local, that went under because of poor loaning proceedures.
---------------------------

I didn't quote it, I copied it... And even though the "local" banks aren't in trouble now, doesn't mean that they won't get dragged down by shrub's mess.

I've known about ratio that was in place previously of salary vs. expenses to qualify and I didn't go for that "oh, you only have to put 10% down" as I wasn't paying PMI or any other extra costs.

BTW, ssdd refers to Montco as my experience has shown me that this is the case in Montco and a lot of the boroughs, towns, etc.

120508 2:29 p.m. ssdd in Montco - especially for the ones wearing the "rose-colored" glasses... 0001

Anonymous said...

Just noticed another comment by ssdd back in Dec. regarding the financial/banking situation. One blogger said that ssdd "quoted" a news article (legal)...while ssdd said she copied the article and included it in her comment...if you "copy" an article and have it published - careful - if you did not have permission, even though you "quoted" where the information came from.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just noticed another comment by ssdd back in Dec. regarding the financial/banking situation. One blogger said that ssdd "quoted" a news article (legal)...while ssdd said she copied the article and included it in her comment...if you "copy" an article and have it published - careful - if you did not have permission, even though you "quoted" where the information came from.

January 14, 2009 10:37 AM

------------

You call copying something in this blog "publishing". Get a life or call the police to report this "crime". What a bunch of malarky!

Where is Stan getting his info? Is it "published" in this blog or his other blogs? If so, he can turn himself into the police.

ssdd in Montco 011409 9:45 p.m.

Anonymous said...

Great article in todays paper entitled "Report: Over 8 in 10 Corporations have tax havens" I have been aware of this practice, and noted it during the last two years when this topic came up for discussion. Do you know where our tax money isn't? You got that right - just read the article and find out how more and more corporations not only outsource, but have these tax havens. Oh, their "Home Office" is more than likely in Delaware or Nevada. Nothing like "Made in America" ??? This has been going on for many years, not just the last 8 as most would like to place the time frame - so, now with "change",and also help from our government that has kept them afloat, let's go after them and also get back,back,back taxes and our trillion shortfall will be almost Zero.

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