Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moving to Higher Ground, Part 3

At this time (summer 2012), with the seemingly endless political campaigns about to enter their final phase, it will be interesting to see whether our aspiring decision makers mention the flood and whether they appear to perceive the potential effects. More to the point, it falls to us, the voters, to select those candidates who are aware.
Even though they tend to claim less media attention and a smaller share of our taxes, local governments do most of the work and have the greatest impact (among the public sector players) on our lives. I value and suggest that my city government continue to provide these services: police and fire protection; municipal, superior, and small-claim courts; detention facilities; street and sidewalk maintenance; traffic supervision and safety; sanitation and trash collection; elementary and high-school education; city parks; libraries; and support for construction in the form of zoning, licensing, and inspections.
In order to continue to provide those services, I would like my local government to discard budget deficits, closed council meetings, and unions. Deficits have no place in city government which (thankfully) is neither authorized to print money nor entitled to spend more money than the taxpayers can afford. All spending decisions need to be made in open meetings, accessible to city residents. Public unions represent a clear conflict of interest: union members use taxpayer money and campaign for city council members who further union goals regardless of the cost to taxpayers. When the union negotiates with the town council regarding wages and benefits, they are effectively negotiating with themselves. The advent and growth of public-sector unions have also brought a rise in so-called defined-benefit pension and health-care plans, both of which we need to leave behind. These have been shown to be unsustainable and will not allow us to fund the services cities require to offer a high quality of life. Finally, we need to leave behind the monuments – great sports stadiums and convention centers – which are rightfully the province of private enterprise.

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