As a newly elected official I was excited, optimistic, and ready to change the world. When I gave a presentation to a local civic group in 2002, I talked about taking on the status quo and bringing reform on behalf of the taxpayers. I could point to any number of abuses and the roadmap to mitigate them, thereby reforming government and taking on the “good ol’ boy” politicians. As part of the presentation, I took questions from the audience. I can still recall a question from another recently appointed official who shared my ideals for reform: “How can we tell when we have become just like them?”
In retrospect, with the experience of the past 11 years, I realize just how important that question is. I have observed the effects of power and seen how it can change good people into bad politicians. A new person takes office with a real desire to restore the balance of power to taxpayers … only to transition over time into someone who falls prey to their own selfish ambitions.
It isn’t always easy to know if your elected official has devolved from a reformer to another cog in the big government machine. And worse, you have no idea that you may now be supporting a status quo politician because you remember him/her as well intentioned with fresh ideas. So it helps to have a set of clear indicators.
I would like to share three of these indicators that I wrote about in 2008.
1. Asking for a tax increase (hd31.org/509).
2. Voting against new or existing transparency policies (hd31.org/510).
3. Voting himself a raise (hd31.org/511).
These indicators reveal the current state of an elected official’s heart. When a politician violates one of these items, you should be on guard. More likely than not, he has changed and should be replaced.
On August 25, 2008, I described the first and most important indicator on the list. Whether he realizes it or not, an elected official waves the white flag of surrender when he asks to raise your taxes. Americans are already heavily taxed at every level of government. Government taxes, fees, fines and associated costs most likely takes over half of your income. Frankly, I have yet to come across a good reason to raise taxes.
In the afore-mentioned article I wrote, “When the need for more funding faces government officials, all too often established politicians choose the easier task of launching a massive public relations campaign to convince people to pay more money, rather than fighting the tougher battle of lowering their own budgets.”
Ironically, this campaign for more taxpayer dollars usually means downplaying the fact that they have already mismanaged your money.
As a taxpayer, I want my elected official to do his job and do it well, without coming to me and asking for more money. When he asks for more taxes, he is admitting he is out of new ideas and is incapable of doing the job for which he was elected. If that’s the case, he needs to step aside and let someone else give it a shot.
Next week I will write about the other two indicators by which you can grade your elected official. And I will add a new item to this checklist.
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.