Only the rich and the dying deer remain | Letter

San Juan County assessors directly harm residents by Increasing property taxes and by feeding the gaping maw of the San Juan County Government. County managers build bureaucratic stature by increasing their subordinate numbers. The new subordinates may fatten managers’ egos but may not increase productivity with a four-day work week. Overstaffing in a computerized world frequently diverts work time to personal time with a computer mouse and accessible dating sites.

The assignments of the excessive subordinates further harm residents. With excessive permitting, the planning department harasses contractors, requires copious plan revisions, slows housing construction, and increases construction costs. Critical area ordinances and the land bank reduce housing sites. Conservation easements reduce property taxes by reducing building sites. Successful building often requires attorneys citing arcane legal precedents and questionable historians surreptitiously pocketing arrowheads. All these government mandates and machinations shift the housing supply curve leftward intersecting the housing demand curve at a higher price with fewer housing units.

With their higher property taxes and their higher intrusions into private decision-making, the San Juan County Government strangles the island. High rents banish service providers and small businesses. The downtown dies as a played-out gold mining town dies. Gentrification evicts long-standing residents as efficiently as ethnic cleansing liquidates undesirables. Only the rich and the dying deer remain.

The county government and the county residents should recognize the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson’s dictum that “The government that governs least governs best.” That dictum is an enduring truth. At a White House dinner for Nobel Laureates, John Kennedy addressed his guests with “Never before has as much intelligence dined here as the night Thomas Jefferson dined alone”

John Drake

Friday Harbor