Saturday, August 07, 2010

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

Faced with the steepest and longest decline in tax collections on record, state, county and city governments have resorted to major life-changing cuts in core services like education, transportation and public safety that, not too long ago, would have been unthinkable. And services in many areas could get worse before they get better.

The New York Times reports on the continuing pain of penury wracking local government. And when local government catches a cold, it can seem like the flu in Privatopia where the tax base is much smaller and there is no help from bond revenues and federal government bailouts. One plus: HOAs don't have to worry about meeting employee pension obligations.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps HOAs don't have to worry about meeting employee pension obligations, but..

the embezzlers and management companies (is there a difference?) have become accustomed to skimming unsustainable levels of proceeds from the HOA corporations and the homeowners whose properties are so burdened. Hopefully more of them will be exposed.

Anonymous said...

The obvious solution is that cities should consider outsourcing, privatizing services *.

According to John Stossel **:

Free enterprise does everything better.

Why? Because if private companies don't do things efficiently, they lose money and die. Unlike government, they cannot compel payment through the power to tax.

Somebody better tell Stossel that HOA corporations are private companies that have the power to tax.

* Brian Schwartz is the same guy who wrote "Since HOAs are very local and small, participants are often neighbors and hence have incentive to settle disagreements in a civil manner."

** John Stossel is the same guy who devoted an entire program to the topic of "parasitic tort lawyers," yet somehow overlooked the HOA attorneys who feed off of homeowners.