Hamblen County Commission met Thursday, January 22, and there was something new in front of each of the fourteen commissioners....fourteen lovely new computer monitors.
Where did the lovely new monitors come from?
At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Stancil Ford informed the commissioners that the new monitors were given to commission by Morristown Utility System (MUS). Ford added that this lovely "gift" didn't cost the taxpayers a dime.
So were the computer screens really free? NO. Manna from Heaven? NO.
As Paul Harvey would say, it's time for the rest of the story.
Ford said MUS "gave" computer monitors to county commissioners. Well, where in the world did MUS get the money to "give" computer monitors to county commissioners?
From the thousands of MUS water and electric customers who---whether they knew it or not, whether they wanted it included in their utility bill or not--paid for water, electricity, and computer monitors for county commissioners when paying their monthly water and skyrocketing electricity bills.
Surely, Mr. Ford knows that the screens were not free.
Of course, politicians love to talk about "free" grants, "free" dollars from the federal government, "free" dollars from the state government, "free" gifts from one governmental-type entity (like MUS) to another governmental entity (Hamblen County Commission), and "free" gifts from companies, banks, and others who frequently do business with the government.
Most of the "free" grants, dollars, and gifts are not really free at all. They are simply grants, dollars, and gifts that have been paid for by one set of taxpayers or utility customers and are then transferred from one level of government to another with a new name--"grant" or "gift."
And almost all of these "freebies"--whether public or private--come with payback and strings, visible or invisible, attached.