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How Washington State can weather the economic crisis
The current leadership in Washington D.C. and the Federal Reserve can agree on one thing: Whats good for banking is good for America.
The latest tragedy in-making is the festering creature that will come to pass from the spreading contagion of the mortgage crisis. Already our Federal Government is attempting to re-write contracts that will rob pensions, endowments, and money market funds. The payouts will go to the investment and commercial banking ventures that served up the toxic loans encouraged by the Federal Reserve. This creates a moral hazard by perversely rewarding those who should fail and punishes the society-at-large; those who did not misuse credit.
The tragic effects of these policies cannot be ignored. The politicians conveniently ignore the downside risk when they bailout, or deficit-spend, without directly increasing taxes. When revenue cannot be exacted from our payrolls, they resort to a hidden tax called inflation. Inflation cheats the middle class and the poor, while the bankers, who collect fees when the new credit is created from thin air, get to spend the debased currency first. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
This tragic system of managed boom/bust cycles cannot continue in a world of integrated markets. Our trading partners expect value in return for the goods they ship to us, not a pile of worthless IOUs. The federal government shows no signs of abating their profligacy. They are borrowing $500 billion each year and still they cannot produce results. This tragic malinvestment imperils us all.
Washington state has weathered this trend better than most regions. We cannot however, become complacent by thinking were different. As long as were bound to the Federal Reserve syndicate, we ultimately face the same ruin as everyone else. A proactive approach is needed if Washingtonians are to weather the financial tsunami that will engulf our nation. We must heed the words of the Constitution which admonishes that all money must be issued by states and backed by gold or silver.
Gold and silver currency makes sense for Washington state. Extending legal tender status for gold- and silver-backed currencies will protect residents against the depreciating U.S. dollar. Likewise, taxes paid with gold-holders will decrease as the paper dollars inflate, providing incentives for business to invest and save here. As we are strategically located between Beijing and D.C., Washington state will attract more foreign interest from the emerging powers of the East, further bolstering our state economy.
By exercising our rights, Washington state will usher in a new era of prosperity for citizens and businesses seeking a stable and sustainable climate. A plan for implementing a competing currency system based on gold and silver has been backed by former presidential candidate and publisher, Steve Forbes, on CNBC. From this endorsement, we can assert that interest will expand as proactive citizens demand honest money again from their government.
Countys commission form of government outdated
Val Torrens wrote about governmental accountability, effectiveness and efficiency, and the local residents enthusiasm in pursuing this matter in a column appearing in (a recent issue of the North Kitsap Herald). In order to have a meaningful discussion on this subject, Kitsap Countys current commission form of government must be changed to a council/manager type of government, otherwise, any effort to accomplish anything will be an exercise in futility.
A commission form of government is where commissioners play a dual role as legislators and executives of the departments assigned to them. They are supposed to implement the very same policies they have formulated and nothing could be more self-serving. Checks and balances are inapplicable in this arrangement. Commissioners are politicians and do not possess the professional qualifications to manage the department they are assigned to be the head. In order to keep their jobs, department heads at times are compelled to subordinate their professional judgments to the whims and caprices of these commissioners. For example, unless the commissioner is a qualified engineer himself, the county engineer must sacrifice sound engineering judgments to please the commissioner designated to head the engineering department. Apply this condition to all the other departments and you have an idea of the quality of services rendered to the public.
The commission form of government may have worked well during the horse and buggy days, but Kitsap County has grown to the point where the model for effective and efficient governance is the corporation where you have a board of directors that formulate policies and a CEO responsible for its implementation, which is what the council/manager form of government does. Department heads are solely accountable to the CEO and concentrate on doing a good job without the political interference that could affect their job performance. The CEO, in turn, is answerable to the board of directors (or council) for the performance of the department heads under him.
These observations are the results of having spent the first half of a six-year career as city engineer of a city in New Jersey four times the size of Bremerton under a commission form and the latter half under the council/manager form of government. The local residents have been educated enough to recognize the need to change the commission to council/manager form by referendum if the government is to be more responsive to their needs.
One clear measurement of a governments effectiveness is its efficiency in responding to citizens complaints or concerns that affect their safety and quality of life. During a public session of the Central Kitsap Community Council, of which I was a member in 2001, a resident along Tracyton Boulevard complained that his concerns on traffic safety in his neighborhood remained unheeded for months. In response, I submitted a set of recommendations outlining a procedure on a proper response to citizens complaints. This was patterned after the same method applied in the municipality I retired from as city engineer and has proved to be successful, resulting in public satisfaction and leading the award to the city manager as the Most Outstanding City Manager for the State of New Jersey. Among the salient features of these recommendations are:
Citizen complaints and response status to be a boiler-plate item in the agenda for regular scheduled meetings of the board of commissioners.
Department heads performance evaluation to include efficiency in responses to public complaints to be expressed in a ratio of complaints resolved to complaints received.
On the basis of the foregoing, the commissioners are to evaluate themselves on their performance on the standards they themselves set. Realistically, this will not happen and this explains why my recommendations remain languishing in the commissioners files.
Yes, the need to change Kitsap Countys current commission form of government to the council/manager type is long overdue and unless county residents are informed and educated enough to see through the fog of special interests with hidden agendas, all efforts and discussions on government reform will be an exercise in futility.
NOEL C. SIM, PE