November 12, 2010

Protesters Unite Against Taxpayers

In politics, especially during campaign season, we get inundated with messages from challengers and incumbents alike of their intentions to reduce taxes and cut spending. I'm sure the vast majority of them are well-intentioned, but the reality is that very few are successful in their efforts to cut spending.

The reason local, county, state and federal governments are so hesitant to make the necessary cuts was made abundantly clear in this Buffalo News piece, which focused on Erie County Executive Chris Collins' correct attempt to prioritize county spending. I know this statement will come as a shock to some, but government cannot be all things to all people. The role of government, at least on the county level, is to provide core services to the residents of that county.

In this case, Collins is proposing to cut funding to all but 10 cultural agencies in the county and reduce the county's subsidy to public libraries by $4 million. His efforts to control spending and not raise taxes were greeted with hundreds of protesters, including those below (from the Buffalo News):

Collins understands the role of government and he understands how the seemingly unending burden of taxes negatively impacts both residents and businesses, and he's trying to do his part to control county taxes. No matter what he proposes to cut, he's gonna piss someone or some group off. Therein lies the problem.

These groups and organizations have become so reliant on the taxpayer's subsidy of them, via the county, that they expect it. If they don't get it, they raise holy hell. Most elected officials will then run for the hills because a public protest is too much for them to handle. That's why we see protests like the one above. Fortunately for the taxpayers, Collins is not going to be threatened or intimidated.

There are hundreds of groups asking for money, yet they each serve a minute fraction of our community. While I'm sure they serve a purpose, it is not the role of government to ensure their existence. Let's hope Collins sticks to his guns and the rest of the county legislature backs him. After all, if we're serious about addressing the region's tax burden, difficult decisions must be made.

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