Having an interest in Missouri history, it’s always a fun opportunity whenever I can sit down with old newspapers from around the state and take a look at what has transpired in our communities through the years. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of our leaders would often write in to local papers, usually with their own weekly columns. For example, Mel Carnahan, serving as State Treasurer for Missouri in 1983 would write in an article entitled, “State Government is Big Business” that, “Missouri State government is a big business. And you as a taxpayer are, in effect, a stockholder.”
He would go on to note that the State government revenue for the just-completed year totaled about $4.16 billion, with state government’s assets valued at over $2 billion – half of this amount in pension trust funds and invested cash, earning taypayers interest income. And while Missouri’s land, buildings, highways and bridges were valued in 1983 at around a billion dollars, Mel Carnahan makes a special point to say the following: “what makes state government different from many other large businesses in Missouri is our low debt level, which amounts to less than half our assets.”
While we would of course debate over the appropriateness of a government whose purpose lies in justice and the protection of our natural rights as being touted as a business – and a big one at that – we do think it interesting that Carnahan realized the importance of low debt level. Something which many of our Missouri leaders, regardless of party affiliation, seem to fail to grasp today. In fact, he would conclude his short article with the following, which speaks for itself, “That’s why it’s so important we utilize sound business practices in state government. And that’s what we’re doing in the treasurer’s office.”
30 years later, is Missouri government continuing to utilize sound business practices with low debt level? Well, with a current debt of around $47,350,149,000 and a debt per citizen of $7,867 – we’ll leave you to be the judge of that.