The Wahkiakum County Eagle covers one of the smallest counties in Washington state. Last issue’s big story was about the county’s finances.
The large picture on the front page shows county officials conferring how to lay off employees. A smaller picture features a note pinned to a wall. The note says “By October 7th the County Debt is $1.4 million.” Then, in bigger letters, it says “Do Something” with the Treasurer’s signature below.
For a county with less than 4,000 citizens to rack up a multi-million dollar debt is no small thing.
The commissioners gave notice to discontinue the county extension agreement with the state’s cow college. A bitter pill for many, since this was the first county west of the Mississippi to institute such an office.
Weirdly, the commissioners saw this coming. Revenues have been falling for some time. Yet a few years ago they bought the failing local medical clinic. A picture lower on the front page welcomes a new physician’s assistant. The hidden story here is that since the county has owned the clinic it has been costing the county at least a quarter a million per year.
Can you say “microcosm”? The microcosm — small universe — is this little county, faltering because it took over a medical delivery system.
The lesson for America, our macrocosm: Don’t take over health care. We can’t afford another huge expense on the books.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.