Who's to blame for the federal budget mess? Everybody, including -- sad to say -- local governments in places such as the city of Albany and Linn County and their counterparts all over the country.
The local paper reports that Linn County is seeking $7 million from the federal government to make improvements on the Quartzville road alongside Green Peter Reservoir. The road provides access to federal land, so that's all right, the county argues, with some logic.
In Albany, the city manager tells the school board the city has become an "entitlement community" because it passed the 50,000 population mark in the census of 2010. This entitles the city to more federal money for its housing programs, slim as they are, without having to apply for the money as grants. As a metropolitan area, the city also now is entitled to more federal transit dollars, perhaps allowing an expansion of the bus system.
Everybody knows by now that the federal government cannot pay for the obligations it has taken on -- including local housing and transit programs -- without borrowing nearly half of every dollar. This is the underlying cause of the political chasm in Washington, with the president working hard to increase and consolidate the government's vast powers over everything.
On the local level, if you question the quest for federal money, the answer you get is that if we don't receive it, some other town will, so no money is saved. That's true -- but it is also an admission of complicity in the forces taking the country down to financial ruin. (hh)