Excuses aren't reasons
When negotiating a contract, and the other party bulks, to overcome objections, you must discern between "excuses" versus "reasons."
Most of us unwittingly blur the distinction from time to time. My wife wants ice cream, and I tell her I don't feel like ice cream, but what I really mean is, "It's too fattening and I'll gain weight." The first is the "excuse," the latter is the "reason."
So it is with government policies. Manufactured excuses mask real reasons behind policies.
Tell me the reason why 2 percent to 4 percent annual population growth isn't enough?
I'm for economic growth, but one or two commissioners say we need more population growth in order "to do what needs to be done." Tell me, exactly what needs to be done? I want sound "reasons," not political "excuses."
Besides, if we can't run a healthy county with 170,000 people, tell me exactly why we can do it if we add thousands of "affordable housing or workforce housing units." (That's government-speak for apartments, and government-sponsored housing projects preferred by energetic politicians.)
Carroll County's low population growth rate may be 'new normal'
Ironically, considering the average household must gross $80,000 in wages, and pay taxes on a house costing at least $320,000 to generate enough tax revenue to pay for county services, it is self-evident the "excuse" for low-end growth simply exacerbates the "reason" for government financial challenges.
Forget "excuses." What are the real "reasons" behind drum-beating for more population growth?
Recently, in Annapolis, I challenged a liberal senator who concocted an "excuse" to justify policies harmful to rural counties. He said rural development is "too expensive for government," and suggested urban development is more affordable. It isn't.
Urban development leads to skyrocketing costs for social services, housing services, drug treatment services, municipal utilities, law enforcement services, emergency services … and when you add all of these together, urban development is actually a greater strain on government.
I blew-up the senator's "excuse" by pointing-out that urban areas consistently have higher tax rates than rural areas. If urban development is more affordable, cities would have the lowest tax rates. They don't. It's just an excuse that hides the real "reason." Urbanesque development shifts voting blocks from right to left. Witness Frederick County.
So, tell me a "reason" why higher growth rates will make Carroll County better? Will it lead to lower crime, less congestion, better communities and a higher quality of life … or simply increase the strain on existing taxpayers?
Here's my position: "People move to Carroll from surrounding jurisdictions to escape urban development patterns. They don't want Carroll officials re-creating what they came here to escape." Hundreds of people attended our PlanMaryland forum four years ago and booed then-Gov. Martin O'Malley's Secretary of Planning when he tried to sell denser development to us.
There's also that other pesky problem … too many schools costing too much money. So, let's grow the county any way we can to fill empty schools … right? Wrong.
But commissioner, we've been told large numbers of teachers are leaving Carroll County because of poor pay. Except, this "excuse" simply wasn't true. Two years ago, Carroll had the lowest teacher attrition rate in the entire state of Maryland. Last year, our attrition rate was still among the lowest in the state.
Question: Why did the school system advance this blatantly misleading "excuse?" You know the real "reason." It's green, but has nothing to do with the environment.
Recently, public school political hacks grabbed front page headlines alleging Carroll is not "welcoming." Hogwash. All legal citizens are welcome in Carroll. Our Realtors, communities and government embrace Equal Housing Opportunity. So, what's this hoopla really about? It's an attempt to justify social engineering of communities to promote a political agenda and fill empty classroom seats. Again, it's about green … as in greenback.
Let's face fact: Donald Trump's election proves citizens are tired of expensive overbearing government that interferes with citizens' lives. It was a referendum against establishment government — of both parties.
Decision-making should always be based on solid "reasons." Leave the politically correct "excuses" at the doorstep.
By the way, what were those "excuses" about why we need to spend $60 million rebuilding the Career and Tech Center? Do you remember hearing any good "reasons?"