Guest Columnist

To cope with pandemic, governments must get their budgets in order

Far too often, when the government starts to see the effects of economic instability, the first move is to fix it with cash.

Iowa Department of Public Health tents to conduct health screenings on visitors to the Iowa State Capitol Monday, March
Iowa Department of Public Health tents to conduct health screenings on visitors to the Iowa State Capitol Monday, March 16, 2020. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register)

With the Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision this week to, at least partially, ease the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it would appear that we are starting to hit the downhill slope of the state’s mitigation efforts. Whether you’re of the opinion that this decision is good or bad for the state, the reality is that it is going to happen eventually.

While the focus right now seems to be the topic of whether or not to reopen, I feel that there is much more at stake that we need to consider.

Libertarians have long been sounding the alarm on policies that expand government power and restrict the individual’s liberty and freedom. While restrictions being placed on Iowans absolutely needs to be addressed, the economic impact on the state and nation is something that is going to have the biggest impact in the long term.

While citizens can possibly influence change by voicing opinions about the governor’s decisions, we can have a much greater impact on how economic problems are mitigated.

Government overreach doesn’t end with the COVID mitigation efforts. Far too often, when the government starts to see the effects of economic instability, the first move is to fix it with cash. Whether they are putting a bandaid on it in the form of stimulus payments or taking even more of it from citizens in the form of tax increases, in the end it has a negative impact on citizens and does little to solve the problem.

It’s going to be up to Iowans to hold our government accountable at the local, county and state levels to ensure they are finding ways to solve their economic woes without hurting families that are struggling just as much.

How can we do that? We need to be contacting our officials to influence them to look at ways to cut spending that will help them mitigate the local economic impact of the outbreak, while maintaining a responsible budget that doesn’t have to reach deeper into the pockets of struggling Iowans.

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We should encourage our representatives to loosen restrictions that impact small businesses and hold back individuals from starting new ventures, like occupational licensing.

Finally, we should pressure officials to let the market run its course and fix itself. Whether it be through corporate cronyism, influence on the stock market or other government meddling, when our elected officials are allowed to pick the winners and losers in our economy, it’s the citizens who end up with the short end of the stick.

It’s more apparent than ever that Americans want to help their friends and neighbors, and will be ready to get back out and support their local economy. It will be up to all of us to hold our leaders accountable to make sure that this passion and support is not held back by government interference.

Mike Conner is Libertarian Party of Iowa chairman.

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