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  • Last modified 147 days ago (June 28, 2017)

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Government’s bidding

Two words ought to strike fear in the heart of every concerned citizen. No, they’re not “Donald Trump” nor even “Sam Brownback.” They’re “lease-purchase.”

Lease-purchase is governmental shorthand for being able to go into debt without having to ask reluctant voters to approve.

It’s like treating your charge card’s line of credit as if it were savings. And, like credit card debt, it’s a gravy train for banks, which otherwise might have to make actual loans to actual people wanting to do things like start or expand actual businesses.

Have you ever wondered why local governments rarely seek bids from distant banks on lease-purchase agreements? Could it have anything to do with the number of bankers serving on various commissions and councils?

It’s a far cry from what happens with such things as demolition contracts. A local bidder turns in the lowest bid, but government’s expensive experts screw up the specifications, and the project has to be rebid. Rather than give preference to the local guy, as in lease-purchase bidding, his price is exposed. A distant competitor, who never bothered to bid the first time, knows exactly what it takes to undercut the guy who actually pays taxes and provides jobs here.

“Shop at home” seems to be a great mantra for everyone but government itself — except, of course, when it comes to lease-purchase.

Aside from banks, the only local guys government always seems to give a break to are its own employees.

Government jobs already pay better than nearly all private jobs hereabouts. But government makes them even sweeter.

It hires unqualified workers, pays for those workers’ training, and then gives each worker a huge raise because of the training. Every few months, the worker also gets a seniority bump, and every year there also is a cost-of-living increase, typically greatly exceeding the actual increase in the cost of living.

Government workers get their cell phones paid for. They get bottled water to drink at work. They get redecorated offices, expansive travel allotments, new computers, and expensive technicians to plug them in.

We still may have government of the people but it increasingly seems to be by the insiders, for the insiders.

We used to talk about running government as if it were a business. Too bad the businesses we chose to model government after are the ones that give huge payoffs to executives who cook the books, send jobs overseas, and then expect taxpayers to bail them out.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified June 28, 2017

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