Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Rural Population is Declining. We Can't Afford Politics as Usual.

The other paper last week noted that the population for the entire northwest Missouri area is declining. This is a continuation of a prolonged population decline that has happened since the early part of the 20th century. We went to the Hopkins CBC meeting tonight, and one of the people there noted that everyone coming to the community meetings was getting older. Our young people are moving away and there is nobody to replace them.

There was a reason why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump carried Worth County and much of the area. People are sick and tired of politics as usual; Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump have one thing in common despite their many differences. They both want to halt the job exodus facilitated by politicians of both parties and bring our jobs back home. Mr. Trump's struggle in Wisconsin had more to do with demographics and less to do with any fade job on his part; the next several states cover friendly territory for him. And Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, signed NAFTA, which helped trigger the exodus of jobs from this country, which explains in part why she can't put the so-called "Socialist" away.

We can't just keep doing things the way they have been and expect this decline to reverse itself. Our planners, leaders, county commissioners, and city councils are doing the best they can, but it is like sticking a finger in a leaky roof. If that means some of us have to pay more taxes, that means some of us have to pay more taxes.

The passage of the Worth County School Bond Issue and the Grant City Bond Issue by comfortable margins offers encouragement and points a way forward. People are willing to pay more taxes or keep a tax levy in play if they know that their money is going towards something worthwhile. In the school's case, people understood the need for the new parking lot and the gym floor and bleachers. We have jolted the car more times than we care to count over the constant potholes in the east parking lot. And the gym floor & bleachers, while they have served the school well for 50+ years, have lived their lifespan; the floor in particular was starting to warp and develop dead spots.

The news of the Panama Papers, which detail how numerous members of the 1%, including world leaders such as Vladimir Putin (Russia) and David Cameron (UK) hide their wealth for the purpose of avoiding taxes shows the moral bankruptcy of the present system. Even Donald Trump gets that the money has to come back home. If we can get our hands on some of that money, we can pay for all of Bernie Sanders' "socialist" proposals, many of which involve common sense. One such plan involves a $1 trillion investment in our roads, which would directly benefit northwest Missouri. One person asked us if we would get our fair share, but here in our district DOT, we have a capable head in Mike Rinehart, who has always ensured that Worth County has gotten its fair share in road funds. People will pay taxes for that if they see the need.

The Panama Papers are merely the tip of the iceberg as far as the wealthy elite are concerned. All of the Presidential candidates are tied in with them in some way, except for Bernie Sanders, which is why he got my vote. But it is totally unfair that certain people get to avoid paying taxes because of who they are; the rest of us, if we engaged in those kinds of tactics, would be called in for a massive IRS audit or jailed for tax evasion.

Mr. Trump came forward with another worthwhile idea -- reevaluate the way we defend our allies abroad. Our Pentagon has become so bloated that our politicians are afraid to say no when they request more spending. If the rest of government has to live within its means, then so can the Pentagon. If certain allies want us to help defend them, they can pay more of their fair share. That frees up money for us to spend at home instead of paying for military bases in 180+ different countries abroad, many of whom are not wanted locally. Other countries should not have to depend on Uncle Sam any more than we should. Nobody is saying we should not have a strong military, but we spend more on defense than the next ten countries combined.

This is a fixable problem -- get a handle on people gaming the system like certain members of the wealthy 1% and force the Pentagon to live within its means like every other agency. But a lot of politicians say it can't be done. But it's not that they can't do it, it's that they don't want to. It would stop the gravy train.

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