Friday, October 31, 2008

Putting Priorities In Order

Never accustomed to making suggestions as to how local governments prioritize the spending of the money they steal from productive individuals, I tiptoe in with a degree of discomfort. My normal train of thought goes toward the notion that government officials have no bloody idea what they're doing, and they simply attempt to appease the loudest whiners, and to increase their personal power.

After many decades of at-will tax increases and criminal mismanagement by elected and appointed officials, followed by some meager but partially effective resistance measures by a majority of the productive electorate, many local officials are finding it increasingly difficult to leach off a productive class that's increasingly voting with its feet, and leaving high-tax cities.

Now, according to many news stories like this one in the Wall Street Journal, cities are facing bankruptcy largely because of a sliding economy caused by government mismanagement, and are trying to cut budgets. Sadly, and stupidly, as one might expect of those who have no idea what they're doing, they are cutting the budgets of the least expendable agencies first.

Rather than trimming non essentials and areas in which city governments have no business or expertise (but represent numerous feel-good schemes and appease noisy special interests) these officials are looking to cut the budget for law enforcement.

They aren't dropping their arts programs or selling off excess real estate. They aren't considering privatizing their parks and libraries. They won't consider selling the schools to private operators or privatizing the fire departments.

Public safety, that is, police departments are taking the hit. Public safety is unarguably the most important reason for the existence of local government. And that's the first place to cut, according to the bloated city hall officialdom!

Done right, that ain't all bad. They could disband the costly and largely unnecessary SWAT teams. They could lose the vice, anti drug and anti gang teams and put their police back in blue uniforms and give them neighborhood beats. They could have their detectives actually investigate and solve real crimes. They could drop the quasi military posing and scrap the black body armor and ski masks, and act like local citizens doing a job, as is closer to reality.

And, most important, they could trust the people of the town to arm themselves for purposes of self defense.

That would save a lot of money. My overview estimate is that any city can live on around 10% of current levels just by streamlining law enforcement and the courts, dropping non-essential spending boondoggles and privatizing everything that can be privatized.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Kent C said...


They always cut where it will do the most perceived harm to the public.

If it's schools, then it's bussing and sports - the first requires parents time and effort and the second cuts into one their prime enjoyment.

With cities/counties, it's police, fire and waste managment - the first two to incite fear and the last one to incite disgust or just to smell up the place (they put their 'environmental caring' on hold until the levy passes).

With the housing bubble bursting look for counties to start figuring evaluations in a different manner. They should be losing big time in property taxes.

Kent C

Col. Hogan said...


It reminds me of a mural that was painted on a wall on public property here in El Pueblo de Los Angeles back in the thirties. While the city is in dire fiscal straits, unable to provide its usurped services with any degree of competence (the buses are filthy, streets full of potholes, water pipes bursting all over the city--while we're in an alleged drought--and schools in third world condition), the city is spending well over a million bucks restoring that mural.

There are hundreds of little needless projects like this that get funded, while kids are getting beat up, robbed and sometimes killed in school, and they won't bother the gang thugs because the mayor was once one of them.

T. F. Stern said...

So government is supposed to keep us safe from danger, not grant us entitlements; wow, what a novel idea...

Rambo Jones said...

There is so much corruption in these counties. The auditing process is completely broken. How does one expose nepotism anyway? A politician who operates near me is a great example. I will not mention names, lest he send his gestapo lawyer army after me. He spent over a decade lining the pockets of his buddies, and finally when he got kicked out of office, his buddies help him set up a real estate business. All the money he stole from tax payers.

Col. Hogan said...


Primarily, their job is to protect out rights so we can keep ourselves safe. The police are there to intimidate the bad guys by their presence in the area, and to help set things straight in the aftermath.

The presence of a solid, trusted police force will help keep the neighborhood safer.

Col. Hogan said...


I honestly don't know how to deal with government corruption. The system, bloated as it is, makes it easier to hide theft and other unethical activity.

The best I can come up with is to work to get government out of areas in which it has no business. making government smaller will help make corruption easier to spot.

Kent C said...

I'd favor an amendment to the Constitution that would expire in 20 years ;-) It would include a flat tax, balanced budget and term limits.

Flat tax gets rid of 50% of the lobbyists, balanced budget along with the flat tax would restrain spending and do away with a lot more lobbyists and term limits would get away from the entrenchment in Congress.

Col. Hogan said...


No politician will say that the hovering lobbyists is the reason he'd oppose the "Fair Tax," but other than that, what would be the opposition to it?

Well, there is this: it'll be harder to engineer the "social change" desired by socialists. Which the also will never admit.

Kent C said...

I heard Schumer once say (and many others from the Left) that he wasn't opposed to the idea of a flat tax but thought revenues would come up well short of what would be needed. ;-)

Col. Hogan said...


With Schumer and his like, revenues will always come up short--much like the Los Angeles children's prison system. No matter how much they get, it's not enough.