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Letters to the editor

April 30, 2005

We need to dry out from drug of overspending

To the editor:

Today I read an excellent opinion piece by Charley Reese. Reese's message was a nonideological, nonpartisan blast on the fiscal irresponsibility of our elected leaders, now and going back decades. It was a real downer.

He pointed out that because of the past and present lack of will to do anything about spending, right now fully a third of every tax dollar you pay Uncle Sam goes directly to pay for the money we've already spent.

Remember that $300 tax-refund check you got a few years ago? That check was borrowed and you're paying for it with your taxes now. The government borrowed a dollar from somebody, gave it to you, who gave it back to them, to spend on you.


This is not a liberal/conservative or Democratic/Republican issue. I thought it was plain old laziness and corruption on the part of politicians. They just keep spending more money. We're all guilty too because we want the services (if you think you don't, try roads and security in addition to welfare) and we have let them do it while telling us how much good it did us. Deficit spending took off for real with Reagan, and has continued growing through Clinton and two Bushes. Only the first Bush came close to controlling the "growth" of spending. Spending increases went right on strong. Clinton got a break because a bubble economy resulted in lots of taxes for a while.

But it's not laziness or corruption, though they're both around in abundance. It's drug addiction. The drug is called "Low income, high spending." If you have a zillion-dollar inheritance, you can get away with it for a while. As many Americans now realize, everyone else borrows money and goes broke. It's a drug, but the FDA would never approve it.

It's certainly effective as it calms the masses, but it's definitely unsafe and extremely addictive.

So we have to seek treatment or crash. No amount of ignoring it, TV, sports, the Internet, or religion will help until we admit we have a problem and seek treatment. I hate "doom and gloom," but not confessing and seeking treatment must mean some combination of three things.

1. Tax increases, perhaps massive.

2. Massive federal spending, of the type seen in Russia after the Cold War.

3. A fairly short period of really bad economic times, followed by decades of slow economic growth of the type Japan is just coming out of.

See? Russia and Japan took the same drug and crashed. Japan less than Russia, but a crash nonetheless and both are trying to rebuild their lives.

I hate it, too, but thanks Charley for at least telling us.

Tim Sharpe

Tory VanReenen: What I'll bring to council

To the editor:

Over the past several months I have talked with many Hagerstown residents, and I've studied the issues that most concern our community's residents. The issues are so many and varied that I'll admit that it hasn't been easy to prioritize them.

Although life seems more complicated today than it once was, we still require food, water and shelter. Once upon a time, the essentials of life could be met by self-reliant households who provided for their own needs.

Today, the growth of our population and advancements in technology have reduced our ability to be completely self-reliant or independent of one another. In fact, today we're increasingly inter-dependent.

As I see it, this is the role of government: To help all of us meet our needs as a community, and to meet those needs in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

As I've listened to the citizens I've spoken with, they share this view: They want their government to be efficient, accountable, trustworthy and responsible in its use of their tax dollars.

So, if you were to ask me what good government consists of, I would say this: Good government creates the best environment a community can offer at the best price. It means facilitating education, medical care, affordable housing and public safety. It means supporting businesses and enhancing employment opportunities. It means preserving our local history, supporting nonprofits and the arts and providing recreational opportunities.

How do we get there? First, those who lead should first listen to our citizens. Good government starts with good listening. Second, those who lead should consider our citizens' needs and concerns and prioritize them.

Third, our leaders have got to work together to reach a consensus on how to address those needs.

Bickering over turf wastes time and money and doesn't improve the quality of life in our community.

And finally, our leaders need to remember that they, too, are human and that we all need to be held accountable for our results!

As for my running mates and I, we have resolved to continue to listen to you, the citizens of Hagerstown, and to continue to work together for the common good. We would bring people-friendly government, jobs, redevelopment and affordable housing, fiscal responsibility, health care and government cooperation and collaboration.

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