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|Finally, Solutions in Scott County|
|Commentary/Politics - Editorials|
|Written by Kathleen McCarthy|
|Wednesday, 27 October 2010 05:15|
Can we all finally agree that both major political parties are irrelevant and are in fact two branches of the same ruling party? Both have exponentially grown an inefficient and corrupt government via unsustainable increases in spending, including both social and corporate welfare, debt, and taxation. In retrospect, the differences in how each party governs couldn’t fill a coffee can.
Which means Americans can thank the mainstream media for perpetuating the myths that there are meaningful differences between Democrats and Republicans when there are virtually none; that a political challenge between the two is the only thing at stake; and that by supporting and voting one party over the other on election day, Americans are participating to create some desired change for the better.
It is an illusion. Americans have allowed themselves to be utterly manipulated by the media, which answers to the politicians, the largest infrastructure (food, energy, communications, medical, finance, and insurance) monopolies’ executives/owners, and the party leadership, all of whom control most of the purse, and the laws that protect that purse.
It is a simple formula – almost a law of nature – and has been operating since the beginning of civilization. What is curious is Americans’ resolute denial that this formula could possibly apply to them, that we are somehow immune to this power struggle that afflicts mankind – the need to dominate one another at any cost.
For years, I thought the First, Second, and Third Estates referred to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government, with the media as the Fourth Estate and final check on the other three estates because it represented the watchdog for the people. I was wrong.
In the beginning, the First Estate was the church, the Second was the monarchy, and the Third was everyone else. It was not until modern times that the First Estate became the government, the Second referred to industry leaders, and the Third was still everyone else. The Fourth Estate, the media, is now owned by the First and Second Estates, leaving it far afield from its original mission as the people’s watchdog.
In essence, the First and Second Estates make all the rules and have most of the money and, therefore, most of the control over the Third Estate, which, sadly, finances the activities of the other two – via either coercion by taxation or blind consumerism. It is a most inequitable relationship, and one that America’s founders gave their lives and fortunes to change.
Iowa gubernatorial candidate Jon Narcisse said it perfectly during a recent radio interview: “Why should a man be punished for improving his own property with increased taxes? If he puts a new deck on his home, instead of the freedom to improve his property, which hopefully causes the value of his property to increase, and likely that of his neighbors, he is instead immediately assessed for the improvement and made to pay higher taxes from that point forward, regardless of whether market values increase or not.”
Thankfully, Iowans, in Scott County at least, have some superb alternatives to the one-party/two-branch candidates and can actually participate in providing real solutions to the decline of our government institutions, repairing the First Estate in the process.
Iowans for Accountability (IFA) have three serious candidates running for Scott County Supervisor: John Riley, John Green, and Jesse Anderson. The IFA effort is historic in that it is the first time in Scott County that a Non Party Political Organization has been formed, much to the establishment’s chagrin. The IFA team of candidates is also unique because rather than just complain about increased taxes, overspending, and obtrusive government activities, they have articulated “12 Steps to Fiscal Sobriety, Transparency, & Accountability.” These include Web-casting public meetings, more accessible documentation online, zero-based budgeting, real-time posting of expenses and bidding documents, and the addition public with business to the agendas. More details can be found at ScottCountyIFA.com.
The level of engagement by supervisors in the past has been so dismally weak that fixing county government may be as simple as having people willing to ask tough questions, investigate further, and seek alternatives to avoiding scrutiny, surrendering authority, and growing government at any cost.
One of the big wake-up calls that prompted IFA to form was the supervisors’ creation of a new intergovernmental agreement and taxing authority called SECC911 (Scott County Emergency Communication Center). The board has waived oversight for SECC911 to this new entity, with no cap on taxes to support the facility in the future. There is no greater betrayal of the public trust than this outright abdication. What was sold as a $4.6-million savings to taxpayers over 20 years with increased consolidated services and a 6,000-square-foot building has turned out to be $28 million in long-term debt, a 27,500-square-foot building with nearly $8 million in ongoing annual operating expenses, and unanswered questions about equipment purchases and operations.
The SECC is now the second largest expense item on the budget, and it isn’t even operational yet. It has morphed into a regional fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security and who knows what else. This means that Scott County taxpayers are shouldering a disproportionate share of a federal program. It is absurd, and would not have happened if citizens had been paying attention. The good news is that IFA is now paying close attention.
Aside from IFA’s research and proposals moving forward, the three candidates’ experience makes a great team for fixing Scott County government. Riley is a Vietnam veteran and prolific structural engineer in the county, Green is a general landscaping contractor and former Marine, and Anderson is COO for his family agri-business and an Augustana political-science and public-administration graduate.
The IFA Web site has a presentation that includes a 10-year overview of property taxes, expenses, and population growth in Scott County. With only a 5-percent increase in population over the past 10 years, the status quo has seen fit to increase expenditures by 59 percent and taxes by 76 percent.
Tyranny is a fair word for unjustifiable tax hikes to support one facility, when not even the county’s own commissioned studies support what the SECC has become. Market prices for properties are declining, yet property taxes are rising. This is unprecedented, and probably unlawful if challenged. But make no mistake, the two-party system – including the current Scott County Board of Supervisors – is entirely responsible for this insanity, and the supervisors must be replaced. Either they don’t know what is at stake, or they don’t care, but either way the rest of us lose. Vote for the IFA candidates on November 2, and together we will put things right. In all reality, it isn’t as difficult as you’ve been led to believe.
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