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Posted: November 18, 2010 7:24 p.m.

Cutting more than waste

It looks like the midterm elections are going to lead to a witch hunt for government waste.

There isn’t any government waste in Newton County, but let’s assume there is for purposes of argument.

A wasteful government program employs people at all levels: managers, accountants, office workers and on occasion people who actually do the work of the project.

Now, all those people pay federal, state and local taxes, which support federal, state and local government projects and services we all like: roads, prisons, courts, police, fire, schools, libraries and similar services.

Cutting government "waste" means we lose revenue to support all those programs.

But it gets worse.

The people who were working for that government "waste" program have home mortgages at local banks, buy food at the local grocery store, exercise at the local health club, and contribute to the local church.

Cutting government "waste" means all those merchants and organizations lose support.

But it gets worse.

The people who were working for that government "waste" program now don’t have jobs, so they have to rely on public services, food stamps, welfare, public health assistance, all of which lost support because these people weren’t paying taxes to support those services.

Cutting government "waste" means that the demand for public assistance goes up from honest, hard-working people who only want to have jobs.

But it gets worse.

As the economy sinks even deeper due to unemployment, home foreclosures and lack of consumer spending, the panic to cut government "waste" grows.

We should follow the advice of the Ghost of Christmas Present: "...forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered what the (waste) is, and where it is."

Patrick Durusau is a Covington resident. His column appears regularly on Fridays.

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