Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

06 June 2009

Slavery in the Free State

Maryland was once called the Free State, mostly due to its long ago history of relative religious tolerance. Maryland also had the distinction of providing some of the best units of Washington's Continental Army. These units fought bravely under General Washington and then fought equally well under Major General Greene in the very important Southern Campaign that ended at Yorktown. Of course, one then had to turn a blind eye to Maryland also being a Slave State, so even then Maryland should have been ashamed to call itself the Free State. Maryland practices a different form of slavery now.

What is the situation now in Maryland? Marta Mossburg writing in the Washington Examiner has given us an update. State and local government employees grew by 20% from 1997 to 2007. I have looked up the overall population growth of the state in that time for comparison and find it to be only 10.3%. Now the amount of mischief that government's can do is likely to go up as the fraction of the population working for government goes up. We would be very lucky if it only went up in strict proportion, but these government workers are actually very "productive" in two tasks: increasing their power through spending and their own benefits!

Unfortunately, Mossburg only gives us the state budget for 2010, when what we need to find is the growth in the sum of the state and local government expenditures in Maryland to compare to the population growth rate and to the government employee growth rates. After some searching (Do the governments want these figures to be hard to find?), the sum of the state and local government expenditures in FY 2000 was $27,446,000 and it is $57,600,000 in FY 2009. This is a growth in government expenditures in Maryland of 210%. Seems the burden of government is getting worse in Maryland at about a rate of 20.4 times faster than the population to bear the expense is growing! Thus, Marylanders are working ever longer hours to pay this burden, which is the equivalent of spending many more hours as slaves to the state and local governments.

Mossburg points out that the state budget for the health insurance of state government employees is going up 17.4% from 2009 to 2010. The 2010 budget includes a 22.1% increase in money for teacher retirement benefits. This represents a 207% increase since 2001! Of course, Democrats are in control of the governorship and the state assembly in Maryland, so they have to pay off the teacher's unions for their critical political support and for indoctrinating Maryland children in the thesis that every problem has its solution in an additional government program.

Overall entitlement spending in Maryland is increasing rapidly also. In 2001 it was 16.2% of the budget, but in 2010 it is 20.8%. At this rate of growth, entitlements will be 40% of the budget by 2050. State retirees just received a 3.8% cost-of-living increase. Meanwhile, unemployment in Maryland is the highest it has been in 17 years.

What effect is this tax and government burden having on Maryland's population? For five years running, Maryland has suffered a net domestic out-migration. Marylanders are seeing other states as better places to live. Its overall population growth in each of the last two years was 0.3%, pretty similar to that of most of the states of the Northeast which also have oppressive government burdens. From 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, its growth rate was 44th lowest of the 50 states. In the earlier part of the last 10-year period, Maryland did somewhat better. Its growth rate since 1 April 2000 has been 6.4% compared to the U.S. growth rate of 8.0% in that time. This ranks it 24th among the states. Its position has worsened since a comparatively good Republican governor, Robert Erhlich, was replaced by the present governor, Martin O'Folley. The Democrat legislature is no longer somewhat frustrated and is instead being encouraged to cause mischief and harm. As we have seen, it and the local governments are very effective in this effort.

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