Hard to Kill: Why Government Agencies Take on a Life of Their Own

Such thoughts, of course, have not occurred to our selfless “civil servants,” who aren’t about to give up their phony-baloney jobs without a fight. The State Road and Tollway Authority’s director, Gena Evans, went on to say that tollway authority “needs to use the excess toll money for salaries of officials who arrange financing of the Department of Transportation.”

So there you have it, folks. Never mind what we promised you twenty years ago; you weren’t supposed to remember that for this long anyway. You’re expected to go on paying the state, forever, because, well, we need that money to pay bureaucrats.

Georgia certainly isn’t the only state or locality that’s playing fiscal games these days. While today’s trillion-dollar deficits get most of the media attention, state governments have proven to be no slouches when it comes to running up the taxpayers' tabs.

According to a Reason study, state budgets grew 50 percent faster than inflation in the “fat years” from 2002 and 2007, and state education budgets grew by 70% more than the inflation rate, despite a relative decrease in the student population. California is the current poster child for big dumb government, having increased its state spending from $75 billion in 1999 to a staggering $144.5 billion last year.

A vast portion of last year’s federal “stimulus” spending actually went to propping up profligate state governments, over $53 billion of which was specifically intended “to avoid cutbacks and layoffs.” In other words, when times get tough, the government pays itself first -- with your money.

There can be, of course, no question of doing what families and businesses have to do when money gets tight, i.e., spend a lot less of it. States and localities are past masters at demagoguing budget shortfalls in the arena of public opinion.

As soon as a proposed budget cut looms, as if on cue governments start threatening to shut down the police force, fire department, and schools. Since almost nobody wants to do without cops, firemen, or teachers, this is a highly effective tactic most of the time -- although oddly enough, governments always seem to find a way to hold on to the Special Executive Assistants For Airport Graft, to say nothing of the odd Georgia Road and Tollway Authority.

Also unmentioned at budget crunch time are the layers of superfluous school administrators or the phalanxes of alphabet-soup state agencies overstocked with employees whose jobs aren’t remotely related to either public safety or education. After all, those are a lot of very dependable votes come election time.

And it’s just money -- somebody else’s money.