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Governments' Misplaced Priorities

Governments' Misplaced Priorities

Testimony to Northern Va. political leaders on 01/06/2018, prior to the Virginia General Assembly

-- David Swink, webmaster, 01/03/2018 (Print version)

Hello, Virginia state delegates and senators:

As you head off to Richmond to discuss what needs to be done for Virginians, please keep in mind the following:

U.S. Government
The Federal government's primary responsibility is to protect U.S. citizens -- ie, a strong military for national defense. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes only a few other duties, which together require a financial pittance compared to a sound military.

But today, so-called "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) -- which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution -- currently eat up about two thirds of the federal budget. Our Constitutionally-authorized military has to settle for some of what's left, and is less and less able to meet the defense needs of the country.

In other words, our national leaders are failing us.

Virginia Government
The States' primary responsibility is to promote opportunities for growth and to provide a basic level of literacy to their citizenry. Growth requires infrastructure -- ie, primarily roads and bridges -- to promote commerce. And since democracy requires an educated citizenry, state governments need to ensure their citizens receive a decent K-12 education, whether through public or private means -- including CIVICS, and U.S. and State history (unadulterated by Political Correctness).

But in Virginia today (and many other states), Medicaid "entitlements" and actuarially-unsound pensions for public employees are eating up an ever-increasing percentage of the Commonwealth's budget. Growth is being throttled by deteriorating infrastructure (mainly roads) -- which Virginia apparently can no longer provide. Critical roadways (eg, I-95, I-495, I-66) are being turned over to private firms for operation and maintenance, and citizens are being tolled to use roads that they rightfully consider to be the fiduciary responsibility of the Commonwealth.

And education? College-bound students are now commonly required to take remedial courses, because Virginia's K-12 public schools failed to properly indoctrinate educate them. (But perhaps a lucky few will make it to the NFL, where they can proudly display their ignorance of U.S. history by taking a knee.)

In other words, our Commonwealth's leaders are failing us.

Local Government
Local governments should also facilitate commerce, education, and the basic needs of citizens within their jurisdiction. Taxes should be reasonable, libraries and recreational facilities maintained, and convenient schooling made available -- preferably with option for parental choice. (Gold-plated offerings should be left to the private sector.)

But in Fairfax County, where I live, the government is over-taxing its populace and wasting taxpayer money on boondoggles like Metro (heavy rail) instead of a more practical Rapid Bus System (BRT). Meanwhile, our roads are probably the worst in Virginia. Our public schools are ever more costly, and are better at indoctrination than teaching students how to think.

In other words, our local leaders are failing us.

* * *

In summary:

  1. The U.S. is failing in its primary responsibility -- National Defense -- because "entitlements" eat up most of Federal revenues. Solution: Investigate the "Chilean Model" of individual-owned "social security" accounts.

  2. Virginia is failing in its primary responsibility -- Infrastructure and Education -- because of Medicaid and public pensions for state employees. Solution: Don't expand Medicaid, make pensions actuarially sound, and increase the retirement age to match Social Security eligibility.

  3. Local governments that do not reign in their spending excesses will see their residents "voting with their feet" -- off to more prudent jurisdictions. Solution: Spend like you care about tax-payers.

  4. The Washington Metro system is unsustainable. If riders were to actually pay what it costs to keep Metro in the black, a one-way ride from Vienna to Metro Center would likely cost $40 -- higher than the current I-66 single-car toll at rush hour. And how many riders would pay that? Solution: Let Metro go into bankruptcy proceedings, and let's go BRT.

Thank you for your time. Make us proud in Richmond this year!