Column: Local government worksThe St. Louis County Board recently was to approve 12 employees with a correlating cost increase. Other of Minnesota’s 87 counties have done more or will do more or less the same.
By: Chris Dahlberg, For the Budgeteer News
The St. Louis County Board recently was to approve 12 employees with a correlating cost increase. Other of Minnesota’s 87 counties have done more or will do more or less the same.
These changes were necessitated by the newly created federal Affordable Care Act (pejoratively called “Obamacare”). This column is not meant to be an indictment on Obamacare. Rather, it’s a reflection on how states allowed themselves to be subjected to such a heavy-handed, paternalistic state of affairs imposed from Washington, D.C.
Ponder this: Washington, D.C. takes our local dollars. Then, Washington, D.C. takes a “middleman cut.” giving us back a percentage of our local dollars. We’re then told by Washington, D.C. in what manner we should spend our returned dollars. Adding to insult from this paternalistic system, we are “penalized” or “sanctioned” if we don’t spend our dollars (again, these were our dollars to start) as Washington, D.C. sees fit.
Within this system we find such amusing language as “match,” whereby local government entities “match” federal dollars, as if those federal dollars actually originated from Washington, D.C. Is it any wonder that with such an upside-down, disconnected system we have allowed, that there exists a continued fiscal cliff, a sequestration crisis of Washington, D.C.?
The answer to America’s fiscal malaise lies not in a Washington, D.C. beltway solution, but rather local solutions within each of the 50 states. It has been correctly observed that local government is the laboratory of democracy. Within Minnesota and among fellow county commissioners, one frequently hears the slogan “Local government works.”
It does. It works because by and large it allocates taxpayers’ hard- earned dollars to essential services far more
efficiently than a distant federal government. Local government works because its elected leaders are closest to the watchful oversight of their bosses — the people.
The answer to solving the budget mess in Washington, D.C., and efficiently using public resources to address critical issues lies in returning to local government. This is done by taking the power away from the Washington, D.C. beltway and returning it to local government.
It starts with sending to Washington, D.C. elected leaders with the discipline and humility to relinquish federal power back to the local level.
Discipline addresses the question of whether an individual has demonstrated under pressure the ability to resist pulling the trigger for more expansive government.
Humility addresses the question of whether the individual can resist being
a career “Washingtonian” politician — a troubling sign being someone already in politics continually, sometimes for decades.
St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg represents the 3rd District, which is the western area of Duluth. Contact him at email@example.com