Throwing money at trouble seems to be the American way. Often, officials spend taxpayer money in a way that does not fix the issue, and only temporarily addresses a symptom. It would seem that we like it that way since our elected officials have been doing this without real outcry for years.
I am about to propose an explanation as to why this futile practice continues to be the core of our public policy. But first allow me to provide some ongoing examples of how government is quite content to waste money without attempting to resolve the underlying cause.
Homelessness is reportedly the biggest local concern of today. The label of the issue itself is conveniently part of our futile efforts to cure homelessness. The problem actually is drug addiction and mental illness, but that would require involuntary intervention.
So rather than enacting controversial measures that would effectively cure the causes of homelessness, our elected officials have embraced a ludicrous plan. They gently ask the mentally ill and the drug-addicted to please allow us to put them in a box, i.e. an apartment, shelter, or mini-home. If accepted by even a few of the homeless in our community, presto! The homelessness problem is cured — some are now in a box.
Putting someone in a box does not change the person, does not treat an illness, and is not a cure. Even with massive spending from Measures H, HHH, and other massive allocations, homelessness is worse now than ever and will only continue to grow. But rather than counting cures, politicians are counting boxes.
Another example is the city of Los Angeles’ recently adopted “Guaranteed Income Program.” This program gives $1,000 per month for three years to qualifying single women with children. If poverty is the issue, then our politicians believe that giving money to the poor cures poverty. And again, presto! The poor have more money — poverty cured.
The causes of poverty are of course are deeper than just having money. We again are treating the label but not the cause. Long-term poverty is often derived from a mindset and attitude that helps shape, create and manifest financial suffering.
While handing out taxpayer money is a nice gesture, this money has no strings attached and does nothing to affect the practices or mindset of fund recipients. So, predictably after the three years is up, virtually all those who “were lifted out of poverty” we be poor once more.
A final example is the minimum wage. Our politicians purport that if every working person earns more money, then every worker would be richer. In reality, if everyone is offered more money, then prices go up.
Not only does this stupid policy leave those on fixed incomes behind to suffer even more, but the cost of rent, food, gas and everyday expenses rises with the increased availability of money and minimum wage increases are wiped out by inflation.
Raising the minimum wage simply increases the cost of living and existing economic dynamics continue as before.
I have a reasonable explanation of why our electeds continue to embrace these failed and worthless practices.
The Legislature and executive branches of local and state government appear to no longer be in the business of enacting and enforcing laws as a way to improve society and our well-being. I believe this is because improving and enforcing the law is no longer their mission.
I offer that our officials have morphed into The Office of Collections and Redistribution. Those adopting this mindset would have two objectives. First is to collect as much as possible and find any and every way to tax us more. Second is to spend as much on possible on the labels of issues while ignoring the root causes of the challenges that plague our society, which perpetuates spending.
How much tax would we need to spend if programs to remedy homelessness were effective and efficient? What funds would be needed if pathways to cure the poverty mindset were identifying and implemented?
Giveaways would end, only the worthy would be rewarded, and the practice of forever increasing taxes would fade. We would be better served by electing officials who are ready to shut down The Office of Collections and Redistribution.
It is time to start limiting expenditures and putting our taxes to better use. Over the next few months, I plan to interview some local candidates and share with you my observations. Let’s see what they say about collections and redistribution.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an accredited acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.