Hot Dogs at Filet Mignon Prices

When it comes to making decisions on how to spend money, people generally consider the value gained for the money spent.  Sometimes it makes sense to buy in bulk.  Other times it makes sense to put off buying something until it goes on sale.  A few extra dollars for a higher quality item may make good sense if you want it to last.  Sometimes people get tricked by a slick ad or a fancy logo into buying over-priced junk, but even then they do it because they thought they were buying quality.  When times get tough, people cut spending both on things they don’t really need and also through cheaper versions of the things they do need.  It’s just common sense.

One thing most people can agree upon is that you don’t buy generic flip-flops and pay a Nike price for them.  By the same token if you’re paying a Nike price, you expect to be getting the Nike product not something out of the Walmart bargain bin.  Yet when it comes to government, we the people are getting hosed.

“Almost Heaven” West Virginia doesn’t earn that nickname because the quality of life is almost heaven-like.  It earns that nickname because it’s being killed by the cost of its government and every day death is closer for the state.  Let’s take a look at the numbers.  These were compiled by U.S. News and World Report for 2017:

  • Overall Rank: #41
  • Overall Healthcare: #46
    • Public Health: #49
    • Health Care Quality: #49
  • Overall Education: #44
    • K-12 Math: #46
    • K-12 Reading: #42
  • Overall Infrastructure: #44
    • Transportation Infrastructure: #48
  • Overall Economy: #49
    • Economic Opportunity: #40
    • Employment: #50
    • Business Environment: #50

Wow.  For outcomes of that low quality, the people must be putting very little into government.  Surely, for bargain basement results the people are at least only paying bargain basement prices.  Oh, if only that were true.

According to the Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy’s latest rankings, the people pay a high price for what little they get:

  • State and Local Personal Income Tax: #18
  • Business Taxes: #18
  • Sales Tax: #16
  • Gasoline Tax: #18

Right now the Governor of West Virginia wants to raise taxes by nearly half a billion dollars and that’s only for the general budget.  He wants another quarter of a billion in tax and fee increases for a transportation infrastructure program.  It seems the only thing certain to come from that is that the state will rank even higher in the high tax rankings.

There would be some reasonable debate about whether to pay more to get more if the people were paying the cost of #18 and were getting the outcomes of #18.  Would it be reasonable to pay more and be at the cost of #12 if it resulted in outcomes of #12?  That’s not what choice the people of West Virginia are facing.  Right now they’re paying the government for filet mignon and getting served budget brand hot dogs.  All they can reasonably expect from paying more is maybe a brand name hot dog, but they sure as heck aren’t going to see the steak for which they paid their hard earned money.

The better question to be asking is why are the people paying the cost of being #18, but only getting the benefits of being at the bottom?  Where is all the money going?  If the people were only paying in at #41, they should rightly expect to get only #41.  That makes sense.  But when you’re paying for number #18 and getting only #41 or worse, something is seriously wrong.  In any other part of life if people paid a luxury price,they’d expect a quality item. If all they were able to get was a bottom of the barrel knockoff, they’d only be willing to pay a clearance level price.  Yet, since the people really don’t get much say in how much they pay verses how much they get, they’re basically paying for a Rolex and getting a knockoff.

In the last election, the candidates that said that taxes are too high already and people should be getting a better deal for their money won.  That resulted in a large majority for the Republicans in the legislature and a businessman in the Governor’s office.  When the election was over however, the new Governor changed his tune and began pushing for more taxes while the Republicans continued in their position that government should at least live within its means.  The legislature can’t do much about efficiency and quality in the delivery of government services as that is controlled by the executive branch.  All they can do is say no to tax increases, do their best to ease the burdens of laws and regulations and hope that the Governor will initiate efficiency reform in order to accomplish the same or more with no additional revenue.

That’s what the people thought they would be getting when they elected billionaire businessman Jim Justice as Governor.  He promised he could reform the government, eliminate waste, bring efficiency, and make a better business climate so the people would have more economic opportunity.  It sounded good.  It made sense.  After all, a business that is struggling in the marketplace because its operating costs and price point are higher than the quality of its product will allow doesn’t raise the price higher.  It makes reforms.  It cuts waste.  It cuts inefficiencies.  It may even seek to lower its cost in order to regain its value in the eyes of the consumer.  That’s the business sense the people thought they were getting when they trusted and elected Jim Justice.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what they got.

What they got was a Governor who says basically: I’ll tell you just this, I know you’re paying for filet mignon and only getting hot dogs and that’s terrible, so I need you to pay for lobster or else I can’t even give you hot dogs but if you do pay for lobster, you’ll get your hot dogs upgraded to foot longs and you should be as happy as a fly on a cow patty with just that.

Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 3:41 PM  Leave a Comment  
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