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Where do we cut?

Whenever governments propose spending cuts on so-called “social programs” howls of protest and predictions of disaster are sure to follow.

When Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Act in 1996 which he said “would end welfare as we know it,” the crybabies predicted starving children, homeless families, and increased crime. None of it happened.

In Wisconsin – one of the first states to implement the reforms – follow up studies showed that most of the people the bill put off welfare found jobs. Many of them could not be found for the follow up, suggesting they left the state.

Last week Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed cutting programs for prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction to save $55 million in 2012. By the way, the federal government spent $5.4 billion in 2011 on similar programs.

Predictably, Quinn’s proposal was called a “drastic measure” which will lead to increased law enforcement costs and hospital emergency room visits. It was also claimed the cuts will increase welfare rolls; the theory being drugs and alcohol abusers are less able to hold a job and wind up on welfare.

Would these necessarily be the consequences of the cuts?

How does anyone know the answer?

Were law enforcement costs, hospital room visits and welfare rolls greater before the government got involved in treating drug and alcohol addiction?

In other words does government spending decrease drug and alcohol use and addiction?

It sure doesn’t seem that way.

And who decided treating drug and alcohol addiction was the government’s business in the first place?

Without or without government spending people who are motivated to get off drugs or quit drinking will.

Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous are not for everybody, but they work for a lot of people and AA and NA do not accept or request government money. They are completely self-sustaining.

Earmarks

“Earmark” may be a dirty word in Washington or Harrisburg these days, but not to State Rep Mike Carroll. He said when he secures a grant for a project that has merit, such as he did to fill mine voids under Pittston, he’s proud to stand up and say so. If someone wants to call it an earmark, go ahead, it won’t bother Mike.

He told me this at a meeting with Congressman Barletta in Pittston on Wednesday.

Mike, who is on the transportation committee, said the way roads and bridges are plowed after snowfalls around here is a study in government waste and inefficiency.

For example, in Pittston, Broad and William streets are considered state roads and the state plows them even though the city plows have to drive on them to get to side streets the city must plow.

In Wyoming and West Wyoming, Eighth Street is state responsibility. There are a lot of other examples.

Crazier still is that the Fort Jenkins Bridge is considered a state bridge, while the Water Street Bridge is a county bridge. So the county has to send a truck to Pittston to plow Water Street on their way to where? Nanticoke?

Speaking of Nanticoke, Carroll said that city’s home rule government is a good model and something Pittston might want to consider some day.

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