Government employees drink, gamble on the job: Where's the oversight?

March 28, 2011

Every day in the news, we hear about people protesting how government is treating the people. Not only in the Middle East and London but here in the USA and even in Maryland.

The basic tone is that people are completely fed up with government taking everything (money or rights) from the people and returning nothing. Just in the past few days, Maryland's news has been littered with stories of incompetent state and local government agencies. State agencies destroying critical health care records. City agencies hiring career criminals who then collect taxpayer paychecks only to get caught gambling and drinking alcohol while working.

Where the heck is the oversight?

The governor and General Assembly will be spending over $34 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, and this is what the taxpayers get?

I am so sick of hearing politicians say how times are tough and we all have to tighten our belts and get through this economic downturn. Where is the belt tightening from the governor and the General Assembly? Have they tightened their belts or just taken more from taxpayers to pay for their ever-increasing need to spend other people's money? In reading The Sun and listening to the news, I'll assume it's the latter.

Unfortunately for us normal citizens who don't have unlimited funds or the ability to exploit other people's money, we are stuck with the first option of tightening our belts. Anyone who has filled up their vehicle's gas tank or has gone grocery shopping recently has surely felt the sting in the wallet.

But I can not hang these cost increases on the governor's shoulders. He has no control over these increases, but he surely has control over the $34 billion he wants to spend. Over the years, I have seen a correlation between how much the governor and General Assembly spend to how much money I have. It seems that the more they spend, the less I have.

It looks like this upcoming fiscal year will be another one where they spend more and I have less. Once again, instead of tightening the government belt and cutting superfluous spending, the governor and General Assembly have taken their usual route and stuck it to the taxpayers. I am in no way an expert in the economy or economic issues, but I would venture a guess that in Economics 101 the first rule of sound budgeting is to decrease spending or increase revenue. It's pretty obvious that the Maryland politicians came to class late and missed the first part.

I love to hear the politicians praise themselves when they put the burden of their overspending on the taxpayer. They raise fees and taxes and then congratulate themselves by saying they have decreased the "structural deficit" by some percentage. I don't know if the term structural deficit is a real economic term, but to me it just means that you are spending more than you have. How about this for a fix? Cancel the bills that created this structural deficit. While you're at it, cancel other bills and projects that taxpayers don't really need. Stop being so focused on appearing to do more so you will be re-elected or be selected for the national stage and actually try to serve the people.

The normal argument from the politician is that it costs more to run the government and serve the people. When was the last time the legislators took a pay cut or cut their staff? I commute to and from my job. I buy my own lunch at work. Why do taxpayers have to pay legislators to stay at high end hotels and eat expensive meals? Back in early America, legislators paid their own way. When did this change? Was this changed voted upon and approved by the people? I sincerely doubt it.

Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." Hiring incompetent employees, running incompetent agencies, shrinking the actual workers and expanding the high paid administrators, levying every tax and fee possible only strengthens my argument.

John Wilhelm, Bel Air

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