Publisher's Note: Show me the value
By Jody Reese
People are willing to spend money when they know or think they’re getting a deal, which explains the success of those going-out-of-business furniture sales. We all like to think we’re getting a good deal.
But a broad section of people feel they don’t get good value out of their government. Government works for the other guy (or for no one at all) and is just another bill to pay — or face jail time — with little or no return to show for it.
This does not make for happy taxpayers, nor should it.
A well-run government is needed to protect us, educate our kids and help grow the economy. Starved of the necessary money to run an effective government, a government is guaranteed (and we’re the ones guaranteeing it) to fail us.
But I don’t think fed-up taxpayers who want deep cuts in government are to blame. Government and those who lead it are the culprits for failing to give us value and, in those cases where there is value, not telling us about it.
Nothing makes me hate shopping at a store more than unnecessary long lines at the register. It doesn’t happen as much as it once did, but here and there I’ll end up in a store where three or four employees are standing around talking or out at lunch with only one register open and 10 customers in line. That’s the type of store that doesn’t get my business again.
But when I see that in a government office or government-run store, what can I do? It’s not like I can just go to another business to register my car. Or how about when a government clerk is rude? If it were a clerk at big box store I just wouldn’t go back. In a town government, there’s only one place to get a building permit, pay your parking ticket, pay your taxes or find out how to subdivide your lot.
No matter how bad the service is I still have to pay my taxes and fees or face jail time or seizure of my property. This doesn’t make me a satisfied customer.
Add to that that I hear about neighbors getting government jobs because of who they are related to or who they supported in the last election, I wonder where my tax dollars are really going.
It becomes very hard to see the value of supporting government. It’s one thing to understand that a good high school education is the most important key to growing your local economy; it’s another to be happy about supporting schools that you’d rather not have your kids enrolled in.
Taxpayers are customers like any other. We need to see that we’re getting our money’s worth. How can you see the value of paying your taxes when you’re not valued as a customer?
As all of us get squeezed by increasing gas and food prices, we look to the thing we value least in our household budgets to cut. Government’s failure to be well-run means I’m looking there first. And that’s not good for our future.