Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
Many say we should "run government like a business" and "save money" by "cutting spending" and "making government smaller." Does this work? Do We the People really save money by doing these things?
Have you heard the phrase "penny-wise and pound-foolish"? How about "a stitch in time saves nine"? Maybe "eating the seed corn?" When government "saves money," all of these snippets of time-honored wisdom, warning of what happens to those who try to "do it on the cheap," should come to mind.
You can "save money" by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either replace the engine or scrap the car. A simple and inexpensive procedure every few months would have prevented many thousands of dollars in expenses later.
After the Reagan tax cuts we "made government smaller" in several ways that are coming back to bite us now. One way we "saved money" by not "changing the oil" was by deferring maintenance of the country's infrastructure -- the water systems, levees, dams, roads, bridges, airports, ports, rails systems, electrical systems, and the rest of the things we all rely on to bring us safe water, get us to work, ship products and generally move our economy and live our lives.
Now the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) most recent "Infrastructure Report Card" estimates we need to spend $3.6 trillion just to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be, never mind catching up to the rest of the word with high-speed rail and smart electrical grid systems. The bill is getting more expensive every year, and people are dying as bridges, roads and other important infrastructure components fail. Thousands died in New Orleans when the levees failed.
Deferring maintenance is also known as eating the seed corn. As the infrastructure deteriorates, businesses find it harder to get things done, people find it harder to get to work. The prosperity that comes from good infrastructure erodes, so the tax base erodes, the problems accelerate. This is also known as, "Hey look around you in 2016 America."
The Flint tragedy shows how much money "big government" actually saves us.
Michigan Republicans tried to "save money," "make government smaller" and run the city of Flint "like a business." Thousands of human beings ended up being poisoned. Now someone is going to have to pay to cover the health care needs of all those people. That someone might be the people themselves or maybe all of us will pitch in through our government, but a cost is a cost.
Someone will need to cover either the remedial education cost for all the kids whose brains were affected by lead, or the societal costs if this is not done. Then there is the cost to replace Flint's water pipes, the cost of plunging property values, the cost of all the businesses that will choose to leave or not locate in Flint.
Costs, costs, costs, some borne by government, most borne by individuals but costs nonetheless -- because Republicans said we should "run government like a business" and "save money."
Flint shows how basic government spending saves all of us from paying the enormous costs of living with the danger of unsafe water.
Cutting Senior Nutrition Programs
The post "Here's A Sequester Cut You'll Feel In Your Gut" described the results from budget cuts forced by Republicans wanting to make government "smaller." The "sequester" cuts in senior nutritional programs caused seniors to need to be hospitalized for malnutrition -- which costs government a tremendous amount more than the "savings" from cutting.