Now that revising health care at the Federal level seems to be postponed, again, or perhaps dead, we have begun to hear about tax reform. And we’ve heard that tax reform, dealing as it does with money even more than health care, will be that much more difficult to modify.
All of a sudden waste, fraud, and abuse, the triumvirate of economic boogeymen, have been highlighted in the media to once again, like inclement weather, immigration, North Korea, and many other bright shiny objects, distract us from the real problems we all face in our daily lives that could be addressed by our elected officials had they but the courage to do so.
There are a lot of things worse than wasting money, but that waste (and fraud and abuse) does seem to really get next to us and pops up regularly, therefore, to deflect our attention.
There’s not much you and I can do about the staggering amount of value our Federal and State governments throw about, almost haphazardly, pandering to one lobbyist, one vested interest after another, except vote more carefully – which we don’t seem willing or able to do. There are, however, some things we can do at a more local governmental level, and some of us in fact are doing just that.
For examples take a look at the front page of the Douglas County Herald published on September 28, 2017. In an article about the Ava R-I School Board, by far the largest consumer of our property taxes, we note that the construction of a very large storage building for our district will be supervised by the Ava School’s Maintenance Director Monte Valentine and Ava High School students studying the building trades will be afforded the opportunity to put their “book learning” to practical use by assisting in that construction project.
The aspects of that project were not revealed but it stands to reason that rather than let contracts for the construction, doing some or all of the work “in house” will not only provide everyone involved with workaday practical experiences but will hopefully lower the cost, improve the quality, and might even speed the job along.
Elsewhere it was reported that instead of paying to have some playground equipment delivered, our School Superintendent Dr. Jason Dial actually collected the equipment and delivered it himself. Not delegate the delivery to another district employee, not ask for volunteers, but did it himself.
In another front page article Mayor David Norman, discovering that some benches were needed around the City Park playground area, plans to contact Ray Davison, Ava R-I Industrial Arts teacher, to see if his students might be interested in building those benches for the city. Mayor Norman could have picked up the phone and called Benches-R-Us and ordered what the city needed. Another winning idea all the way around.
Yes, these are relatively small savings when compared to the overall budgets of these entities. And, yes, there are work force, liability, tax, and propriety issues to deal with when governmental officials like the school board, superintendent and the mayor avoid the general economy to secure necessary goods and services as they have done here. But look at the messages they are sending beyond that so important one of frugality as they protect our hard-earned and unhappily-surrendered taxes. Our students are getting the life experience often neglected in a school’s intellectual atmosphere. Our citizens are seeing the fruits of the education we are financing. And we are all seeing what can be done “in-house” if we but expend the energy to look around and improvise rather than pick up the phone and order.
If larger governmental agencies and even other local ones picked up on these messages and went to the added trouble, as these people have, of using what we have in our own hands to accomplish what we need done, think of all the intangible benefits we would share. And the money we’d save.