The Average Person is Not Taxed Enough

After publishing my recent article, “Connecticut: The Most Beautifully Doomed State”, several people disagreed with my thoughts. Specifically, many people felt that unfunded mandates were somehow to blame for towns not being able to pay their way.

An example response to my original article:

“This would certainly be true if not for the many, many, MANY mandates passed down to the towns by the state and federal governments. Take away those onerous items and I would expect that most cities and towns could survive and balance their budgets just fine.” — Dan B., Torrington, CT

Words cannot express how wrong these people are. This is basically saying, “We will pay for what we want and nothing more.” While I can understand such words coming from a spoiled teenage child, hearing adults spew this stupidity makes me want to bury my head in the sand.

Sadly, Mandates Are Necessary

What happens when locally-elected nobodies are forced to craft a budget for their town? What happens when these people allow their personal opinions to override what is important to the residents? All too often, decisions are made to remove a critical item from the budget to satisfy the wants of a few over-opinionated locally-elected officials. Or, at best, they may take shortcuts inadvertently causing ripple effects of problems for others. Every mandate, issued by the state or federal governments, ensure a certain minimum to the quality of life of our citizens. In many situations, these mandates are the only device preventing some backwoods politician from making changes that may harm the uneducated or uninformed public.

Why are mandates not funded?

As much as I despise answering a question with a question, why should mandates be funded? Does the federal government really need to give our local politicians money to ensure we have clean air? Or should our residents be willing to clean up after themselves and pay for the technology needed to keep it clean?

When you think of it, mandates should not need to exist in the first place. If all politicians followed today’s research, and adapted to the findings and laws being created, then every town, city, and state should already include such research in their planning. The towns and cities would adopt the improvements long before a government entity feels it is necessary to force their hand. In short, if towns and states genuinely had their citizens’ best interests at heart, mandates would not be necessary. Just because the state or federal government is having to force the lowly politicians to care for their residents, that is no reason why such orders must be followed by a payoff. The towns should be willing and able to take whatever steps are needed to improve their town on their own.

So what are some of the “unfunded mandates” causing problems?

Exactly my point! People hear the phrase “unfunded mandate” and they blow a gasket. However, the majority of citizens have no clue what the mandates are nor how “common sense” they may be.

Here are just a few of the most troubling unfunded mandates from the recent years:

Clean Air Act

Passed in 1963, the Clean Air Act essentially dictates a minimum quality of air available for citizens to breath. This is backed by research from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

This mandate prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires public facilities to be made accessible to handicapped people.

Medicaid

Medicaid provides healthcare to low-income families.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires schools to administer statewide standardized tests to ensure children are learning and being taught properly.

How can these few acts be a problem?

In business, we commonly accept that 20% of all people create 80% of the noise and headaches for others. This is no different. People are complaining about unfunded mandates as if the government is stealing their lunch money.

When you look at the actual mandates that have come down over the years, virtually all of them fall into the “of course we should have that” category. They are so common sense that local and state governments should want to implement these changes as soon as the research proves our people are in need of something. Sadly, there are too many selfish residents and politicians who care only about themselves. Many would allow their car to fall into disarray, and spew smog from its tailpipe, rather than fix it. These mandates only force us to play nice with each other and uphold a minimum quality of life.

As I have said before, towns need to be able to pay for their existence, and provide what their residents need, without the assistance of the state or federal government. If the town needs additional money because research discovered a flaw in our way of life, then so be it. Our residents must be willing to chip in and allow their taxes to be increased accordingly.