Shakeup state gov't with tax system reboot

Gov. Beverly Perdue has hinted at a “big announcement” of a shakeup in state government in early November, after the election of course. She has alluded to merging, eliminating and consolidating pieces of state government, but has provided no details.

The governor’s spokeswoman said that the state’s pending $3.5 to $4 billion budget shortfall offers an opportunity “to transform state government” by consolidating programs and agencies. There’s nothing like a few billion dollars to focus the attention of politicians.

It is telling that the governor, who campaigned on a pledge to clean up state government, hasn’t taken any steps to date to actually “reduce, reuse or recycle” any state programs or agencies, nor has she taken any decisive action to control the rampant incompetence, irresponsibility and corruption in the state agencies she is supposed to lead.

She has done exactly the opposite. Governor Perdue has actually rewarded bad behavior in her administration. She just gave the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor, to Col. Randy Glover who essentially was forced to resign as head of the state highway patrol in the midst of investigations into wrongdoing by patrol officers.

Leaders in the state mental health system, where people have died while in the supposed care of the State, have been shuffled into new jobs. A director who tried to get the state ferry division to take the radical step of actually operating with a written budget was fired.

Then there is the unnamed manager at the Employment Security Commission who had a subordinate illegally dub commercial DVDs, using state-purchased software that could break the security encryption. The subordinate was fired, but the manager is still on the payroll, drawing $91,320.

To add insult to injury, this illegal activity occurred in the same ESC section that for nearly a year failed to correct a computer program error they knew about, an error that caused the commission to either overpay or underpay people receiving unemployment benefits. Leaders in this agency actually had the audacity to claim they didn’t have the software needed to fix the error, even though they had the software capable of bootlegging DVDs.

To cover their own incompetence, they then demanded that the people they overpayed — people who had no jobs — give the money back. That is probably understandable. The ESC was just following the example set by the state Department of Revenue, which instituted a deliberate policy to refuse to give refunds to taxpayers who overpayed their income tax.

Of course, when the governor found out about these incidents (from the news media, not from those responsible, from her staff or even her own lawyer who was informed of the tax refund policy) she feigned dismay, claimed she “knew nothing,” and reversed the policies.

The governor’s spokeswoman dismissed the ESC computer issue by mischaracterizing it as a computer “glitch.” It was not a glitch. A computer glitch is a short-lived malfunction in a system, that cannot be diagnosed. The correct computer term is WAD – working as designed.

Our tax system is designed on the basic assumption and underlying premise that the money people earn does not belong to them but to the State. It is designed to take money from people who earn it and give the money to people who politicians think deserve it.

That’s why politicians talk about “paying for” tax cuts and claim that taxes are designed to insure that everyone pays “their fair share.” That’s why you have to pay a fee and get a license for the “privilege” of engaging in a home business. That’s why you have to get a “permit” in order to make improvements to your home.

Any shakeup in state government must begin with a reboot to restore the original libertarian operating system of government built on the core values that you own yourself, the money you earn is yours, and that you should be able to use your property and live your life as you see fit, so long as you harm no one.