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Old 09-25-2009, 07:15 PM   #16
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I think the problem with the government is that you're penalized if you save money. So every department has to use all the money they got or they get less money the next year. As you can see this is a very shortsighted system and does not encourage frugalness which leads to very hard times when tax revenues are down.
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Old 09-25-2009, 07:19 PM   #17
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This would be very disappointing if they end up closing a few branches. Only civilizations in decline determine the dissemination of knowledge an 'unnecessary expenditure' imo. We shouldn't have to resort to charity to keep libraries alive, government needs to get it's priorities right as well.
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Old 09-25-2009, 07:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Amalthia View Post
I think the problem with the government is that you're penalized if you save money. So every department has to use all the money they got or they get less money the next year. As you can see this is a very shortsighted system and does not encourage frugalness which leads to very hard times when tax revenues are down.
very good point...the way budgets are setup does actually penalize a dept/division/whatever if they find ways to not spend as much in a given period.

Still, there is something niggling at the back of my head about this issue from the 70s and I do not remember what it was exactly. I only recall there was something hinky about budget allocations and needing to base them on the current year's expenditures. I wish I could remember, but it does seem there was a big dust-up over the issue here in CA.

I would think a bonus system similar to what many corporations use for project groups might work well in government...as in if they can save money then part of that savings is returned to them as a bonus and the rest dumped into that depts reserve or the state's general reserve.

I am sure there are landmines in this idea and sure it's been thought of before and likely tried but I really cannot recall.
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:03 PM   #19
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Just an FYI they are not closing now, presumably because they've finally passed the state budget.

Did anyone point out the irony that Philadelphia was the hometown of Ben Franklin, who pretty much came up with the idea of a free library (if I remember his autobiography correctly)?
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:13 PM   #20
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I think you'd see voters more willing to approve tax increases if they were allowed to vote on how the taxes are spent. Of course such an 'election' would be a nightmare to administer, but the basic complaint I hear when services are shut down due to 'lack of funding' isn't "why didn't they increase taxes" but "why didn't they shut down (some other) useless service?" If you don't have enough money to pay for everything then let the voters decide what gets shut down!
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:26 PM   #21
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I think you'd see voters more willing to approve tax increases if they were allowed to vote on how the taxes are spent. Of course such an 'election' would be a nightmare to administer, but the basic complaint I hear when services are shut down due to 'lack of funding' isn't "why didn't they increase taxes" but "why didn't they shut down (some other) useless service?" If you don't have enough money to pay for everything then let the voters decide what gets shut down!
You can't shut down something else that you consider useless because the reason that the services exists is because it serves some purpose useful to our country. Additionally, if I recall correctly, the US government has been losing money on a year to year basis for basically its entire existence, so its been screwed up for ages.
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Old 09-26-2009, 04:54 AM   #22
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in california people currently working for the state are getting pay cuts and unpaid furlow days regularly, but there are a large number of people getting pensions from the state over $100,000 a year who got no cuts at all. i read this in an article that also mentioned there's a guy collecting i think it was a $250,000 annual pension who was actually indicted for all sorts of corruption while in office, and i think some of it was proved.

maybe what each level of government REALLY needs is a department of common sense...
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:32 PM   #23
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You can't shut down something else that you consider useless because the reason that the services exists is because it serves some purpose useful to our country. Additionally, if I recall correctly, the US government has been losing money on a year to year basis for basically its entire existence, so its been screwed up for ages.
Certainly things that are considered useless can be shut down. Happens frequently when the issue is put to a vote. (Unfortunately these things are rarely put to a vote-so overall it doesn't happen frequently. But if you just look at the occasions when it *was* put to a vote you'll find that it does happen frequently then.) The key is that a majority of the people find it to be useless.

There are a few issues considered to be 'constitutional' where the courts can override the vote-but you know what, even in those cases it's more a matter of the size of the majority & approach that's the problem. If enough people judge something useless, and the courts knock it down as unconstitutional, then the people can amend the constitution-and the courts can't do *anything* about that. (Although a court can decide that a proposed constitutional amendment doesn't make sense, they can't decide that it's 'unconstitutional'. It's possible that the decision that it doesn't make sense might not be made until after it's been ratified and I'm not sure what would happen then. Usually (all the occasions I know of) that decision has been made before the amendment is voted on.) I'm talking about the US Constitution, of course-state constitutions *can* be overridden by that. (And, presumably, the same applies to the national constitutions of other countries but I don't know very much about those.)

There are many government programs which, arguably, were once useful to the country but are no longer so-but they continue because they're never put to a vote. The problem is letting bureaucrats & politicians make decisions for the people. It wouldn't be a big problem if they at least listened to the people (of course the 'silent majority' is hard to listen to, but if the job were easy then it wouldn't pay so well, right?) but they usually listen only to the 'loudest' minority. (Volume is judged in many ways, of course. One is 'put your money where your mouth is' so the group that contributes the most has the loudest 'voice'. Another is political support, yet another is publicity, and so on. As I said at the start, this is an administrative nightmare so I don't expect these things to happen-but it'd be nice if people realized what the problem really is. Maybe *somebody* can think of a solution even if I can't.)

As for the US government losing money, there have been quite a few years when it didn't. Most recently in the 90's. Not nearly as many years as when it has lost money, but it's not been a continuous thing.
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:44 PM   #24
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in california people currently working for the state are getting pay cuts and unpaid furlow days regularly, but there are a large number of people getting pensions from the state over $100,000 a year who got no cuts at all. i read this in an article that also mentioned there's a guy collecting i think it was a $250,000 annual pension who was actually indicted for all sorts of corruption while in office, and i think some of it was proved.

maybe what each level of government REALLY needs is a department of common sense...
I don't know whether it's more necessary to have a department of common sense or a department of ethics. The issue with the pensions is, usually, a matter of ethics. A pension is a contract. The employee has already provided the work, now you are ethically bound to provide the pension-whether the employee still needs it or not. (I won't address the employee who was indicted for corruption-if the pension 'contract' was properly written then that employee will lose his/her pension once he/she is convicted. If he/she is convicted of corruption then he/she probably didn't do the 'work' the pension is supposed to pay for-so he/she violated the contract first, relieving the state of the ethical obligation to continue paying the pension. There are many, many, variations on this, e.g. if the corruption was for only a portion of the time he/she was employed & he/she still qualifies when considering only the time not 'being corrupt' then should he/she lose the entire pension? Like I said, too many variations for me so I won't further address that issue.)

I'm not actually an expert at ethics (as far as I know there is no such thing) but I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about them. Consider the recent problem with the government providing bailout money to firms who were paying executives million-dollar bonuses. In most cases these bonuses were part of the employment contract so if the firm didn't pay them then the employees could seize their property (after obtaining a court judgement that they'd violated the contract, of course-but that wouldn't have been too hard to get). Probably property (including bank accounts) worth far more than the amount of the bonuses. The ethical failures in these cases were two: the boards that first approved these contracts and the politicians and/or bureaucrats who approved the bailout funds without checking whether or not such contracts existed.

This conflicts, of course, with my desire to see such decisions put to a vote of the people-I've never found the US population, as a whole, to be very ethical. Individual people, yes, but the population as a whole? Not really-that's one of the reasons we keep electing corrupt politicians.
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:01 PM   #25
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You can't shut down something else that you consider useless because the reason that the services exists is because it serves some purpose useful to our country. Additionally, if I recall correctly, the US government has been losing money on a year to year basis for basically its entire existence, so its been screwed up for ages.
Libraries are under control of the counties in the states. They are different from the Federal government in that they need to live within a budget. Unlike the feds they cannot print money.

County tax money comes primarily from home taxes and income from this is at all time lows due to the foreclosures. It is not a matter of useless but priorities. Some people think fire stations and police are a higher priority than libraries. YMMV.

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