The sky has stopped falling — well, maybe

There have been a couple of recent economic “indicators” that have resulted in some “Obamanomics” experts to declare an end to the worst recession since the Great Depression.

I find it a bit concerning the very same experts who declared the near end of the world as we know it about a year ago are now ready to declare success of numerous policies and programs that have yet to even reach the market place or workplace.

As much as I was not prepared to accept the ultimate doom and gloom predictions of a bunch of lawyers in Congress, many of whom were directly responsible for creating the problems in the first place, I am not ready to simply accept the news that salvation is at hand.

For those of you who have visited downtown Bremerton any time in the past year, you have seen the results of economic difficulties. The number of empty storefronts is rivaled only by the number of empty berths in the marina.

The difference is every one of those empty stores is a closed business and a probable financial failure of a small business entrepreneur.

I doubt street corner public toilets will enhance restoration of the downtown area any more than floating facilities will fill the marina.

It is interesting to consider the taxes that are paying the costs of the marina may have been and may still be part of the reason businesses fail in the first place.How is it sound economic policy to create and implement a regulation and taxation policy that has immediate negative impact on the very businesses that are needed for economic growth and financial success of a city or county?

Lest you think Bremerton is alone in the “dark window” syndrome, take a slow trip through Silverdale, Poulsbo and Kingston. No need to get off the main drags to find the symptoms of economic problems. In fact, you may not have to visit the cities at all. Just read the reports in the papers of their declining sales tax revenues and the attendant budget difficulties. Perhaps the local governments have yet to discover when a business closes there are no sales taxes. The state is still struggling with that concept. I wonder how long it will take before our state and local governments decide to provide some real relief for small business. The forces in Olympia seemed to get very nervous when Boeing started sniffing around in South Carolina. What does it take to make our legislative bodies, state and local, understand excess taxation to pay for non-essential services and programs is counter to good economic and fiscal policy? I know we are in a race with our neighbors in Oregon and California (many who now live here) to be the most progressive and environmentally pure state in the union. We seem to be catching up with California on the financial crisis front. Can complete fiscal collapse be far behind?

I really tried to pay attention in the micro and macroeconomics classes I took to earn my MBA. I studied at a pretty liberal university. I remember a fair amount of work that demonstrated government intervention in most business practices did not result in a higher level of success. I also recall the determination that tax dollars do not provide the multiplier effect that private investment dollars do for growing an economy. I recall the point being made that hiring a government employee did not increase the overall revenue stream of any economy but simply recycled private dollars without significant return on investment.

Is it not time to demand our government stop creating and implementing policies that cause difficulty for small (and large) businesses and simply get out of the way of those who bring real health and wealth to our nation’s economy ? How about we start acting in our own best interest? A first step would be to stop government spending on “nice to have” projects and start paying down our public debt. Perhaps a bit of tax relief for businesses might even be considered.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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