Our take: It’s still raining money on favorites from AC, NJ | Latest titles

During this century, whenever an economic calamity befalls the American people, their representatives in government feel empowered to borrow and spend like there is no tomorrow. Never waste a crisis, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said after financial banks sank the economy in 2009.

The excuse is that it is better to stimulate the collapsed economy now and suffer the depressing consequences of irresponsible borrowing later. It never works for a family, but people want to believe it will work for a nation.

Public support for reckless spending is bought by cutting checks for some of the borrowed money and sending them to almost anyone.

With the pandemic and the deadly terror it brought, self-indulgent payments soared to previously unimaginable levels, despite the likelihood that the damage to the economy would not be lasting and was mostly self-inflicted. The nation quickly added several trillions to its debt, quickly exceeding the amount of its annual gross domestic product for the first time. The United States is now one of the most indebted countries in the world, with 130% of its GDP.

People also read…

The harmful excess stimulus has led to an overheated economy, forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to cool it. Yet government officials continue to rain money on the public – but only privileged constituencies now.

One is the taxpayers of Atlantic City. In the rest of Atlantic County, like everywhere else in New Jersey, there are plenty of taxpayers struggling with a state economy hampered by too much government spending and regulation. But only those in Atlantic City this month are getting another $500 government check, apparently for pandemic relief.

The so-called tax refunds paid with US federal bailout money from the state smacks of political handouts.

Mayor Marty Small Sr. announced in August that city employees and taxpayers would soon receive COVID bonuses. But the state delayed the plan until it could work out how to meet the minimum requirements for it to qualify as pandemic aid. You can’t make it look like the silver shower is falling on just anyone in town.

At the end of the year, the municipal employees received their money. Those who had reported to work during the pandemic – who made up the majority of employees – qualified. About 85% got the maximum of $3,500 each. Many other people in Atlantic County who also went to work during the pandemic, including essential workers, will not receive such a bonus.

Now it’s the turn of municipal property owners who have continued to pay their property taxes even during the pandemic. This month, they receive forms to mail back to claim their $500.

On these forms, they will have to indicate the pandemic hardships they have endured that would justify their personal windfall of public money. They might check off that they have a low to moderate income, that they are facing unemployment or some other reduction in income, or that they even experience some food insecurity or physical or behavioral health issues. And if that’s not enough, there’s an “other” box to check for anything that might qualify.

Governor Phil Murphy created a program to give immigrants illegally in the state and other day workers $2,000 each if they filled out similar forms. At least those people presumably didn’t get the major pandemic checks that went to citizens. But after Murphy won re-election, when fewer than 10,000 people applied and qualified for a share of the $40 million available, the state handed over $34 million in the general budget. After howls of protest from immigrant interest groups, funding for the program was restored and efforts to distribute the money redoubled.

We are in favor of the government giving the money back to the taxpayers. Better yet would take less from them to begin with.

This method of laundering donations to privileged constituencies is flawed. If the state wants to give money to people in a city or to people in the state illegally, elected officials should propose that to the legislature, debate it, and then vote on it.

Representative democracy is supposed to guarantee the transparency and legitimacy of the decision-making process. If this is not done even in the distribution of public resources, it is no wonder that political stability and trust in government has declined.

Comments are closed.