COLUMN: Bidenomics at work

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

By Ash Cutchin
Your Turn

I know the experts say that all politics is local, and it is, but many times decisions made in Washington, DC on a national level trickle down to us and impact us in a local way. Such is the case with this phenomenon known as Bidenomics. For example, every time I add fuel to my pickup truck I wonder how much more the cost will increase before the next fill-up. As your readers know, it is almost time for our local county real and personal property taxes to be paid (just in time for us to see how much money we have left to spend for Christmas). With these taxes on my mind (which I paid last week) not only am I faced with extra fuel costs for my truck, I also suspect that similar increased fuel costs have affected the operation of Southampton County. So, with the best of intentions, and as a citizen’s right, on Sept. 26 I sent FOIA requests to both the Sheriff and to the School Superintendent asking for their fuel costs for fiscal years 2019-2023. I received a prompt reply from Sheriff Wyche’s office. After a second letter to the School Superintendent (copy School Board Chairwoman) dated Oct. 23, here I am, at 62 days after my first request, with no response. It appears obvious that the Southampton County school system pays no attention to citizen FOIA requests, and I find that situation appalling. After all, their salaries come out of the money we send to the treasurer to pay those taxes.

Because some of the numbers from the sheriff were hard for me to understand, I consulted with the county financial office for help. Not only were the sheriff’s numbers explained, I was also provided with a summary of fuel costs for ALL county departments, excluding the school system. The county financial officer does not even have access to school fuel expenses. The county fuel expenses are shown below, by fiscal year.

2019 84,387 Gal. $165, 897

2020 78,023 Gal. $143,540

2021 82,565 Gal. $117,004

2022 74,565 Gal. $165,167

2023 73,004 Gal. $234,631

You can see in the data above that annual fuel consumption has decreased slightly (-13%) since 2019 from 84,387 gallons to 73,004 gallons in 2023, an indication that our county departments are making an effort to control consumption. However, annual fuel costs have increased (+41%) since 2019 from $165,897 to $234,631, even with using 11,383 fewer gallons. Costs were a bit lower for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 because our president (after unsuccessfully trying to buy more fuel from other countries) took precious fuel from our strategic reserve supply and even allegedly sold some to China. 

I suspect that such figures are fairly consistent for every county and city in America. From these data (and probably similar fuel increases for the school system, except during the COVID shutdown) as well as similar fuel increases for our military, and other government departments, it is reasonable to conclude that our local taxes, as well as our state and federal taxes, will probably increase dramatically in the near future. After all, say our leaders, we must try to fix the mess in the Middle East and protect Ukraine’s borders and support millions of illegal immigrants. Our leaders also say we must continue to subsidize electric vehicles, and subsidize wind and solar farms, even though a majority of Americans are not in favor of those “green energy” expenses. Our National debt now exceeds 33 trillion dollars and the cost of debt service is more than the defense budget. A trillion is a thousand billion. Thirty three trillion dollars reflects a debt of about $110,000 per US citizen, a figure to which the Bidenomics elite in Washington D. C. simply cannot relate. They are blind and deaf to the plight of the average American citizen and especially to those of us here in Southampton County.

We have been hit with a triple whammy! Not only do we pay more to fuel our cars and trucks, but we pay more for food and clothing because of the increased costs of getting these items from the farms to the stores, and our taxes will probably increase because of the higher cost of operating our government. Everything is significantly more expensive than it was before Biden took office, and the main reason is his relentless war on fossil fuels. That’s Bidenomics at work in Southampton County. Remember that the next time you vote.

ASH CUTCHIN graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1963. He is a Vietnam veteran and a retired international airline pilot, He is a charter member of Citizens for Responsible Government and chairman of the Southampton County Industrial Development Authority. Contact him at ashappraz@charter.net.