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Beware of exuberant optimism

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By George Chandler

Dear Editor,

A long eight years ago, in Washington, D.C., notice was taken of a budget surplus that had arisen. The surplus was quickly eliminated by giving tax cuts to people who didn’t need them. We then launched two wars, one right and one wrong but both expensive, so that we reestablished the usual deficit.

Meantime some financial geniuses found a new way to make money. They disguised risky debt instruments as high-return safe havens where bankers could put those unproductive reserves they had to keep on hand in case of bad debt. That house of cards collapsed because reserves must match risk even if risk is sliced into pieces and spread around. Clever ain’t necessarily smart.

Monday night the council considered a proposal to reduce property taxes, based on a temporary bump in projected Gross Receipts Tax revenue. That proposal was quickly followed by another, based on the same temporary bump, that would have reduced the reserves held by the county. Déjà vu all over again!


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