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Thursday, January 26, 2006


When CHOICES are a Bad Thing

I live in Alachua County Florida whose biggest city is Gainesville, the home of the University of Florida. True to the nature of college towns across the US this one is also extremely liberal in philosophy. There is nothing inherently wrong with that and I get a lot of laughs watching the local liberal elite attempt to keep this area liberal in spite of the failure of most of their policies and ideas.

Most of the time I find the political battles amusing. Great wisdom like narrowing Main Street through downtown to alleviate traffic congestion just makes me shake my head and chuckle in disbelief. (We have a traffic problem, fine, let's turn a four lane street into a two lane street, that should help.) I actually live in a small town, which is not incredibly liberal, 20 miles from Gainesville so much of the idiocy associated with Gainesville politics doesn't directly affect my life. But it's always on the periphery.

It is a hard thing to do in this county to raise taxes. In fact, it is a difficult proposition in all of Florida, but sometimes that philosophy just doesn't seem to fit this area. Liberals like taxes for various social engineering projects but most attempts to raise them or create a new tax fail. Thank goodness for that attitude.

However, last year one of our fine County Commissioners took up the charge to make sure the indigent population of our county were not without health care. Isn't it always about health care these days? This was supposedly a major problem in our community and a community cannot be great if it cannot provide health care to people too poor to pay for it. Right.

The program is called CHOICES for the acronym Community Health Offering Innovative Care and Education Services. Catchy acronym, silly idea. It was projected to have an enrollment of 14,000 people.

So the proposal was made to levy a 1/4 percent sales tax to collect roughly 7 million dollars to ensure that poor children received the health care they so desperately needed but weren't able to get. Amazingly enough, the measure passed by a handful of votes. The absentee voters pushed the total over the edge.

The sponsoring commissioner was ecstatic. The liberal media and the elites were jubilant that finally care would be provided for the poor citizens unable to pay for their health needs. The growing conservative block in Alachua County was defeated and good for that. Now we can take care of our citizens as they should be taken care of.

Fast forward a year to January 25, 2006. A front page article in the Gainesville Sun stated that there were only 40 people signed up for this desperately needed health care plan financed by sales taxes. The good news was that the tax will actually raise more than 9.5 million dollars instead of the projected 7 million. Per year! Now we have 40 people in line to collect $9,500,000 in taxes? Not good.

So what should be the solution to this problem. Taking the logical route one might assume that the CHOICES program should be disbanded. Perhaps we got it wrong and there are not as many people in need of it as we originally thought. So let's cut our losses and forget it. We tried to help but it isn't wanted.

That is not how things work in Alachua County. The thing they want to do is to spend $100,000 advertising the benefits of this wonderful program and to encourage more people to sign up. Let's spend more money to promote a welfare program that we don't need. That's the ticket here. I think that's pretty much the ticket in San Francisco or Seattle or Boston as well. Government bending over backwards to help people who don't need help because, it makes us feel good. Bull!

Will we as a society ever realize that it is not the job of governments to provide for every citizen's needs. That it is the responsibility of each citizen to look out for him/herself. Government should simply get out of the way. If you want to feel good and help someone out, by all means, do that. Just don't use the power of government to do the feel-good work for you.

I like to have choices but I hate CHOICES.


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