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As Long as We Remember...

November 20, 2012

Charter Forcing Necessary Decisions

Farrell Keough

We’ve got an upcoming decision to make in Frederick County due to the passage of the new charter – who will be our first county executive? This person will represent the ideology and vision of Frederick County and hopefully influence the direction of our government for years to come.


We have seen a radical change in the influence of our local government through this current Board of County Commissioners. The vision of Board President Blaine Young has been one of the strongest influences we have witnessed in years. Unlike previous commissioners, this current board has decreased the size and, more importantly, the influence of government. We need to continue this ideological progress and vision – that will only occur with the right choice for county executive.


Let us consider the two major pathways we could follow under the charter passed. On the one side, we could see a renewed desired to have government influence the choices and uses we have for our property, income, and governmental projects. On the other side of the spectrum, we could see a continued movement toward less government influence.


As we have discussed in the past, the ideological leanings between John Maynard Keynes & Friedrich August Hayek generate a wide difference in the influence of government. We also noted that no one alternative is so superior as to discount the possibility of the other. (You may remember that we saw President Ronald Reagan employ an almost Keynesian perspective on governmental growth of our military while alternatively using the Hayek concepts toward government influence and monetary policy).


So, why is this important to our county government?


Like the state, our county must produce a balanced budget and unlike the federal government, we cannot print money to make that budget balance. Therefore, the choices left to our county government are by default fewer, yet also much more influential since many state and federal decisions are often made without the influence of the local voting public.


Therein lies the local interest and influence – do we want a vision where a handful of bureaucrats determine the direction of our county? We have seen the influence of Ike Leggett in Montgomery County and the intrusive nature of allowing too much authority in the hands of a select few.


To the other side, we have previously discussed the benefits of less government planning whereby we allow the market or public to determine the course of the future. As we have seen in Montgomery County, government planners never tire of finding new and onerous regulations with which to hamper the public from not only making their own decisions, but repressing them from either enjoying the benefits or accepting the consequences of those decisions. When government planners attempt to determine the public benefit or future, they invariably lack the decision-making capability – it’s not that government planners do not know some things, but that they know only certain things that make them unable to make wise long-term planning.


As we look forward to direction of this county, we need to explore the true needs versus desires of the residents and the historic truths of our government decisions. We shall explore more of these issues in future columns.


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