Letters: Readers chime in on role of government - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Letters: Readers chime in on role of government

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Posted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 3:30 am

Sunday’s Tribune had the perfect confluence of articles and editorials. Perhaps the best one was the Tribune’s own editorial asking the public what level of government intervention they want. Hopefully people consider this as they grade the newly elected local and federal politicians.

Let me share a few observations and opinions. I believe people want the government to provide the basics: police and fire (security), infrastructure (roads, sewer, water etc), education, and some coverage of care for those in need.

What I don’t think people want is public employees’ job growth that is faster than the private sector growth. Nor average pay for government workers more than average pay in the private sector. People want to feel like they are getting their tax dollars worth.

To that end, when the funding for public school children (slightly under 10K in total) is more then the cost to send a child to private school (slightly under 6K) with less results, something is out of hand. Additionally, why has anyone leapt to the conclusion that more dollars for education equates to better results? I think most educators will agree that support and expectation at home will go much further than new books, computers or expanded district bureaucracy.

Finally, I don’t think anyone argues the need for a safety net for those in need. However, the perfect article about single mothers in the Tribune cements a valuable point. A Houston OBGYN gives her time and counsel trying to help pregnant mothers understand the need for marriage to support child rearing. The article goes on to site drastic statistics of 40 percent-plus children born out of wedlock and worse amongst individual groups.  Yet, a woman with four children from different “fathers” (use the term lightly) and a job in fast food says “What’s good for you may not be good for me.”  Easier said when receiving free care — no? Unfortunately, these are some the things that people see when they think of the safety net that the government provides. Arizona is no different where large portions of children born are paid for under AHCCCS. There is no unending vat of money that pays for everything for everyone just because we would like it to be so. At what point does the safety net end and responsibility — fiscal and otherwise – begin?

Ed Glancy, Mesa

“What role should government play?” (Tribune editorial, Nov. 7). Perhaps the question needs to be more specific. What is the role of a municipal government? What is the role of a county government? What is the role of a state government? What is the role of a federal government? Your editorial alluded to numerous examples crossing all levels of government. At a minimum, the role of government, on any level (municipal, county, state, federal) should be to preserve the public health, safety and welfare.

Further, you offered sound advice when suggesting that elected officials take a step back. With the monumental state budget deficit looming, Arizona state government leaders must begin the next legislative session working from a cogent plan that defines the minimum role of a state government. In past years, the Arizona Town Hall forum has been utilized to address major policy matters (water, growth, etc.) facing the state. Maybe it is time to convene another such body? Or, since time is of the essence, it may be prudent to solicit input from the public administration faculty at the various Arizona universities. Their feedback will be ideological, and predicated on an extensive knowledge base. This may be just the starting point the governor and legislative leadership needs to get their arms around the question, “What is the role of Arizona state government?”

Peter A. Plante, Mesa

“What role should government play?” You list several programs that many people wouldn’t want big cuts in. But there is the problem. We can’t afford the size of government we have. We are running a deficit, both at the state and federal levels.

I looked up the number of government jobs in Arizona. In 2009, there were 41,000 state jobs alone. Next I looked up the salaries for those jobs. I was amazed at the number of six-figure salaries — some of them over $200,000. The Retirement Chief Investment Officer made $150,852 in 2009. To put this in perspective, Warren Buffet takes a salary of $100,000 annually from his shareholders, and I’ll bet his shareholders are a lot happier than Arizona’s taxpayers.

Whenever we hear of cuts in government spending, we always hear about cutting teachers and policemen. We never hear of cutting some of these bloated salaries. Here’s an idea: Nationally, the average income in the private sector (you know, the ones paying the salaries of government employees) is around $45,000. How about cutting every government salary for those earning $45,000 to $100,000 by 10 percent, and cutting government salaries above $100,000 by 20 percent, and those above $200,000 by 30 percent?

My favorite part was when you asked: “Is a “little bit” of socialism OK? Social Security? Medicaid? Medicare?”

Let’s think about that. Social Security is 75 years old, Medicare 45 years, and they’re about 40 percent (and growing rapidly) of our national budget, and are the biggest unfunded liabilities (and fastest growing) going forward. When I was a kid in the 1950s and 1960s, I don’t remember anyone worrying about going bankrupt from health care costs. Now, thanks to Medicare, it’s one of people’s biggest fears. And Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that makes Bernie Madoff look like a choirboy. So, no... we can’t afford that “little bit” of socialism.

What happens if/when China decides they’re not going to “fund” the U.S. deficit anymore? Trust me, it won’t be pretty.

Jim Galpin, Chandler

Do Arizona tea party members think they walk on water? Cuts in government spending have been a thorn in government’s side from D.C. down to states and cities forever. One way is to cut services. But when you cut services, you have to lay people off from their jobs. That’s not creating jobs.

What about cuts to AHCCCS? What many fail to understand is that people are on AHCCCS because they cannot afford anything else. A recent article said there is $7 billion in federal money for Medicaid that comes with AHCCCS and would be lost if we cut the program.

The people of Arizona voted on AHCCCS to help the people of Arizona. Is the Arizona tea party saying that the people of Arizona voted wrong? Or now is it that the people of Arizona may have voted wrong with the new people in office?

Steve Patcher, Mesa

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