Privatization of City Services, or Tax for the Public Good?

That's the decision cities face, says columnist John Gurda, and his hope is that Americans will reinvest in the common good through effective taxation.

Jay Walljasper talked to Gurda.

"John Gurda, a history columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, paints a frightening picture of where continuing cuts in public services will lead us "The day may come when librarians have to leave a key under the doormat at each neighborhood branch, when homicides are reported to a call center in Bangalore, when every household is expected to bury its own garbage and to keep its own fire bucket at the front door.""

Full Story: 2010: Turning Point for American Communities?

Comments

Comments

It's the government politicians want versus

the government people need. Our government class has taken a page from Wall Street. In the good times they levered up their spending, issuing bonds for capital projects (necessary or not) with low debt service costs, promising unsustainable benefits to their employees and creating new programs of a very dubious nature. Now that their models have been proven wrong (the increasing revenue trend to pay for all their promises has not materialized) they need a taxpayer bailout. Their responses are the same as Wall Street's as well... we are so important that not bailing us out will be disatrous (keys to the library under mats, police call centers in Bangalore, burying garbage in your backyard, etc.). This is just the cover so our government class can continue business as usual (ala the giant profits by banks with little to no lending and continued huge bonuses). It's going to go down the same way and the taxpayers will be fleeced to line the pockets of the connected.

This is the line of argumentation that John Gurda is going to have to deal with. He is going to have to prove that local governments are doing more with less and that they don't have the funds to cover esssential services. I would encourage him to look back and find some past numbers on the number of government employees, their pay figures and the commensurate wage figures for Milwaukee citizens and compare them to those figures today... those items are essential to selling a doubtful citizenry that they are really getting the same bang for their buck as they used to (I honestly doubt they are, but that's my opinion based upon CA's ridiculousness). The people who doubt Mr. Gurda believe that local governments are simply lying (the classic ruse about cutting essential services first to create a crisis), that government is incompetent (paying ever increasing amounts of taxes and getting pothole filled roads and crappy schools) and that government is controlled by special interests that are detrimental to them (big businesses and unions). The US scores relatively high on the corruption index for industrialized countries, and the more citizens simply believe the government is corrupt (like when the guy in charge of the IRS didn't pay his taxes) the more they will flout the law, avoid paying taxes and vote against paying taxes in the first place (ala Italy). Perhaps in the Milwaukee of old, it's citizens believed their mayor when he actually said he wanted a government that works at the lowest case... the public is likely more skeptical today. Convince people that paying more taxes will do some good and they likely will pony up. Most people will glady pay for a government that functions properly.

More thoughts on this

Courtesy of SFWeekly:

http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/

I should pay more for this?

Granted, hopefully Milwaukee is better run.

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