Pay as you go

Published 12:50 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

To the Editor:

There are scenes in the old movie “I Remember Momma” where Irene Dunn and Barbara Bel Geddes are gathered around the kitchen table with the other three family members discussing the allocation of dad’s paycheck. “So much for the butcher,” “so much for the landlord,” “so much for the baker,” etc., and if there was anything left over, maybe one small something for someone in the family. Never was the word “borrow” uttered.

Granted these scenes took place in the early 20th century, but even into the 1950s I can distinctly remember similar conversations at my dinner table. Most people borrowed money for a home or perhaps a used car and nothing else.

Coincidentally, the 1950s were the last time a president (Eisenhower) left us with a true budget surplus. After that, the government began stealing from people (tax increases) at a rapidly increasing rate and individuals began piling up consumer debt all in pursuit of “I want that.” Make no mistake about it, the seven deadly sins played a big role in that mindset. Remember envy and greed?

We have been subtly lured into the trap of a consumption rather than a production based economy. We are told by our elected officials to “spend, spend, spend” (because that’s what they do) and that will help the economy. Well, rising taxes and increased inflationary costs will not allow us to do that anymore. Rather than SAVE in order to satisfy our desires and needs, the government and the “money lenders” have backed us and themselves into a corner while chasing “pie in the sky.”

All of which leads me to this. Do you realize that the taxpayers of Beaufort County are paying 2.6 million dollars a year in debt service for the 2004 school bond issue? This amounts to 18 million dollars in interest payments over the life of the loan. In addition to this the county commissioners (5) had to scrape an additional 6.4 million dollars from other government agencies to cover the cost overruns above the original 33 million dollar bond. If my third grade math doesn’t fail me, that adds up to $24,400,000 for which we are getting nothing. Coupled with the original 33 million dollar bond that adds up to $57,400,000 of indebtedness. Are we crazy? What if we had saved 2.6 million dollars a year in an interest bearing account at the time the need for capital improvements to the schools became obvious? I think we would be able to accommodate the school board with regard to capital improvements that are now needed without an increase in the property tax or sales tax rates. Frugality and production have their rewards.

In deference to our county commissioners who advocated the position we now find ourselves in, I have begun to hear the words “SAVE” and “CUTS” creeping into their most recent budget discussions. This is a hopeful sign and long overdue. The “good times” are never as good as they seem and overindulgence is always a bad idea. Even Pharaoh knew enough to save enough grain for seven bad years. Remember someone had to produce that grain. It’s time for us and all our governing bodies to go on a “PAY AS YOU GO BASIS.”