The Source of All Government Funding

I saw a posting on Facebook that told of a person on welfare and listed all the benefits that this person received. It added up to a significantly higher dollar amount than the person would make taking a job paying minimum wage.

The initial reaction is anger and resentment toward the individual who is drawing these various payments. While I understand the anger, I think that it is misdirected.

The individual drawing the payments, assuming there is no fraud, has done the research and determined that there is a program that provides funding or some type of benefit for those in certain categories. He or she determines that it is worth the effort to apply for it and if meeting the criteria will receive it.

The fact is that large corporations and other organizations do the same thing spending millions on attorneys, accountants, and lobbyists. Government programs are big business.

I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of two state agencies, both having budgets exceeding a billion dollars. The Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) provided support to Georgians in desperate situations.

When we considered the annual budget, we would hear heart wrenching accounts of the needs of Georgians. Those needs are real. As real as those needs are, if we had ten times the budgeted funds available, we would never meet all the needs.

In one of our budget meetings, I shared my way of understanding how to look at the needs and recommend a budget. For the most part we had been presented with charts and spreadsheets showing how to utilize state dollars in such a way that we could gain more federal funds to increase the impact.

I shared this thought with my fellow Board members. Any government expenditure, whether it is filling a pothole on a neighborhood street, buying a new police car, building a school building, or looking at charts with numbers in the billions, ultimately requires money taken from someone to do the job.

The legislature does not give money. The federal government does not give money. I explained to my fellow board members that a government program, no matter how small or how large, is funded by using the confiscatory power of the government to take money from them, from their neighbor, from their family, to pay for the program.

There is nothing at all wrong with that. A community of people living together will tax themselves in order to provide for common services that individually cannot be practically met. Streets, police, fire, schools, are all examples that we understand.

My point to my fellow board members was, as they examined these programs, to ask themselves if they would be willing to confiscate money from their families, neighbors, and people that they had to live with and see every day in order to pay for these programs.

I got a few frowns and some chuckles when I shared that. I also got a few incredulous looks as if I didn’t know what I was talking about.

The truth is that some years ago, our elected officials stopped recognizing that the source of all government funding is ultimately from the people. They acted as if there was one type of money for the average person, and another for government agencies. That is why we are in the crisis that we face today.

Our next President must understand this simple reality. Our elected officials, from Washington, to Atlanta, to the county courthouses and city halls, must get back to these basics.

Signature of Donald Cole




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