To the Editor:
John Maynard Keynes is usually credited with developing or, at least, first to write about the economic concept of “guns or butter.”
Simply put, any government or ruling authority will eventually get to the point in their development that they cannot afford everything they want or need at the same time. They must decide what is the most important thing they need now and prioritize their spending for either guns or butter.
This is true at the nation, state, county, town, or school district level. You simply cannot afford it all.
Many large and small governments in many countries have tried to deny this reality and have suffered the chaotic consequences of this folly.
The past few Killeen Daily Herald editorials and articles have discussed the growing problem of a critical shortage of school bus drivers in the Killeen Independent School District.
In the April 14 KDH, the biggest headline on the front page declares “A STATEWIDE PROBLEM.” The subheadline: Killeen ISD continues to grapple with bus driver shortage.”
Apparently, many school districts in Texas are in the same boat. I submit these school districts have reached Keynes’ reality — you can buy either guns or butter, but not both in the quantities you need or desire now.
More specifically, you can hire more school bus drivers, or you can do something else with your money; however, you cannot do both simultaneously.
Just look at our recent history of buying and moving portable building around the district. Building schools, roads, and parking areas is a slow, expensive process no matter how well you plan and provide funding.
However, school bus drivers are needed now. Please remember that you cannot build badly needed infrastructure and hire badly needed bus drivers at the same time if you have limited funds. Governments have limited funds.
In most cases, when you cannot hire someone for a needed job, the reason is usually you are not offering enough pay for the work or responsibility required.
Perhaps we need to look at redirecting money from one important project to accommodate another important project. More bluntly, you don’t need to build a new school and a new road if you do not have money to hire bus drivers to bring students to the new school.
Remembering Keynes’ maxim: any government or ruling authority will eventually get to the point in their development that they cannot afford everything they want or need at the same time. They must decide what is the most important thing they need now and prioritize their spending for either guns or butter.
I believe taxpayers would be better served, and more understanding, if funding commitments were reprioritized rather than being asked for more tax dollars. I certainly would.
George Van Riper