Long-Term / Short-Term Thinking

In discussing a little-known item from the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, it occurred to me that once again our Congress failed to think long term and in the best interest of the whole of its citizenry.

The change was an authorization to allow federal facilities to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with local cities or counties for certain maintenance services, such as refuse collection.

In the short term this makes sense. A city that already provides this service for its residents all around the base can easily provide it for the base and probably at a fee less than the base can hire a contractor to perform the service.

In the long term, though, the money the base is spending is going to a non-taxable entity that is exempt from certain wage and labor laws (Davis Bacon Act, for one) that maintains a prevailing wage level for service contracts. The new agreement cuts out a private business that must pay a livable wage and must pay taxes on its profits. Those taxes and the taxes on the higher wages contribute not only to the support of the base budget (federal dollars) but also to local governments. The difference in wages also means more money going into the economy to be spent on durable as well as consumable goods.

Seems like our distrust of Congress has led us to constantly put incumbents in fear of removal and such a state of governing has led to this kind of narrow focus on short term gains.