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For college-educated elites, paid for by deplorable “non-essentials.”
In 1955, the entire State College Borough “General Operating Expenditures” amounted to $210,724, to provide services for a population of about 21,000.
The two biggest line items were police protection “to persons and property” and road maintenance, with a few clerks handling paperwork.
In 2021, serving a population of about 42,000, the State College Borough budget is $69,000,000, covering a wide range of administrative departments and programs.
If the $210,724 budget had doubled to $421,448 to account for the population doubling, and the $421,448 had been adjusted for inflation, the 2021 State College Borough budget would have been $4,113,552.
So there’s about a $65,000,000 gap that can be explained by neither population growth nor inflation.
I attribute it to the grotesque but not irreversible expansion of the bureaucratic state between 1960 and 2020, led by unelected government bureaucrats, and rubber-stamped annually by elected government officials, at taxpayer expense, for two reasons:
to provide make-work jobs for college-educated people who are otherwise useless to society, possessing no skills for which other people would voluntarily pay, and
to serve the labyrinthine regulatory state of small business licensure and inspection, which provides no benefits in terms of public cost-savings, health or safety, but provides significant private benefits in terms of reducing startup competition for larger, more established business monopolies.
To be clear, I value the work of blue-collar public employees: those who pave and plow public roads, drive public buses, maintain and repair public water and sewer pipelines, fight fires, and mow the grass at public parks.
I also value some of the work of pink-collar public employees: those who track the accounting and auditing paperwork for tax receipts and government expenditures.
I’m ambivalent about police. Public safety is a nice idea, but it falls apart when the entity against which most people need protection is the government itself, and instead, the police primarily work to protect the government from even routine, non-violent interaction with those very same people. The razor-wire fence around the U.S. Capitol and the locked doors of the State College Borough Building are both telling examples.
I think the entire so-called “health care” system in the United States, including hospitals, provider networks and corporate insurance schemes — an admittedly large driver of rising costs for local governments in recent decades — could collapse and disappear from voluntary disenrollment alone.
And I think public health would improve thereafter, not deteriorate, as independent practitioners of basic medicine found their footing and established trust relationships with cash-paying individual patients based on direct interaction and word-of-mouth community reputation without any government oversight at all, and as costly, highly-invasive, high-tech, end-of-life interventions fell by the wayside.
But I think 95% to 100% of white-collar public employees (managers, directors, in-house accountants, planners, IT specialists and their ilk) and 95-100% of government regulations are dead weight.
I think the white-collar employees should be fired as soon as possible.
I think the licensure and inspection regulations should be repealed as soon as possible.
And I think the unemployed former government employees should be encouraged to start small independent businesses providing goods and services that meet true human needs for things like food, drink, shelter, clothing, social and religious connections, literature, art and music.
What’s most galling to me is not, I’d add, the raw amount of taxes taken by the government, from the working class, to fund its own operations.
The biggest insult is that the same government officials — elected and unelected but universally robotic and anti-human — have this past year also arrogated unto themselves the right to decree which of the lower class employments and people are “essential,” and which are “non-essential,” and which businesses may be open, at what times, and under which conditions.
These decrees are mostly still in force throughout Pennsylvania, although Texas and Mississippi recently joined South Dakota and Florida in withdrawing from the abhorrent expansion of government intrusion into private lives.
Anywhere these decrees are in force, including State College, with its illiberal Democratic Borough Council, governments are actively destroying the bedrock American principle that individuals have inherent, Creator-given liberty to make their own choices about when, where, with whom and under what conditions they interact with other people to meet their mutual needs for food, drink, shelter, clothing, social and religious connections, literature, art, music and the many other things that make us human.
Grotesque. But not irreversible.