03/10/09 — Silver lining: Here's a new take on state budget troubles -- frugality

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Silver lining: Here's a new take on state budget troubles -- frugality

It is hard to feel better about anything when you are listening to any politician talk about what to do about budgeting and taking care of the impending doom of deficits and cutbacks.

But take heart -- those of you who panicked just a little bit upon hearing that Gov. Bev Perdue sees drastic cuts in her state's future.

This is government we are talking about -- the same group of people who pay too much, push pork and take every opportunity possible to spend money.

Drastic cuts from that perspective might not be as tough as many of us might have been expecting. It is just possible that some of this trimming might be a necessary adjustment that should have been done long ago -- when North Carolina was flush.

The idea brings to mind a positive that might be coming out of the recent state and national budget concerns.

Perhaps government is finally going to have to learn what it means to live within its means -- or at least its interpretation of what "means" means.

Now, before you get too excited, keep in mind that there is a multi-billion dollar spending bill whisking its way through Congress even as we speak -- and there is no evidence that there has been too much cutting going on there.

And also keep in mind the mantra of the new administration: Sacrifice. Who knows what that will end up meaning for the average American taxpayer -- or, most importantly, anyone who runs a small business or is employed by one.

But if, in the end, government at all levels can learn to prioritize the needs of its citizens first and to develop policies that encourage business investment and create jobs rather than simply funding more social programs, then this crisis will teach North Carolina and the federal government valuable lessons about how to handle a budget and how to get the job done efficiently -- really.

Government, by nature, leans toward the bloated, with money spent in places where it might be necessary, but not used efficiently.

While no one wants to see anyone lose a job or services to suffer, perhaps an audit of sorts -- and looking hard at where money could best be spent -- would be a positive outcome of a bad situation.

So, don't despair about the governor's warnings -- they are being heard all over the country. Just hope that fiscal responsibility might be the result.

Published in Editorials on March 10, 2009 10:03 AM