When Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington’s Continental Army at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781, history notes that the British fife and drums at the ceremony played a popular tune of the day “A World Turned Upside Down”, in many respects such was the state of the empire of King George III.
Upstart colonists, angered by a monarch who “erected a multitude of new offices, and sent …swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance,” declared their independence in the summer of 1776, proclaiming the function and purpose of government was to protect the ‘uninalienable rights (of)…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Two hundred and thirty-four years later, how much happiness can we stand and how much can we afford?
Instead of government at all levels working for us, we toil to pay for it. Pick a program, be it local, state or federal, and work through its budget trying to understand how much is overhead and how much is initiative. We’ve been living hand to mouth in Norwich, and elsewhere, for too many years, we’re now eating our own fingers. Something wrong has got to be righted.
Last week there were news stories on the 1.49% increase in the Rose City’s grand list—an increase that not only does NOT keep pace with the consumer price index, but is possibly overstated in the aftermath of last year’s reevaluation.
The meeting the Saturday before last of the City Council and the Board of Education led even a casual observer like myself to conclude both sides, because of circumstances beyond their, and our, control, are trying to make jet fuel from peanut oil and that no good can come from this effort, no matter how well-intentioned it is.
The Land of Steady Habits, as Connecticut likes to be called, has picked up some terrible fiscal habits most especially unfunded mandates of all kinds used by Hartford to stick municipalities with the check, while special interests celebrate preferred treatment and businesses and the middle class flee our border in droves.
We can no longer, literally or figuratively, afford a bloated state government that invented a form of magic book keeping, securitization, so scary that even voodoo economists fear it because it will, unchecked, shred what’s left of Norwich’s quality of life, be it pavement or police, education or emergency services, in an attempt to save itself at everyone else’s expense. No more top-down dictates and trickle-down mandates. Not a moratorium-an end, period. Turn the page and start again.
Government needs to be repurposed to best support those programs delivering the best quality and lowest cost public services for our collective good. The public trust must stop being the public trough.