Public faced with reality that services require revenue; better off to make decisions at local level; yet another fire department talks about not rescuing people…

Was it just a week or so ago that the Alameda, Ca.  city fire and police were in the news for failing to make a water rescue because it was against their policy because due to budget cuts they had dropped the ongoing training program for “land-based water rescues”?

Alameda reportedly moved to reinstate the program after the negative publicity.

But as I was driving through Sacramento the other night, I heard on one of its local radio stations that due to budget cuts the fire department there might have to drop some rescue programs.

Part of the problem here may be that the public does not seem to see a connection between tax revenue and basic services and not everyone agrees on what constitutes “basic” services. I think it was Sacramento that was also telling the public that the good news is that they won’t have to cut fireman positions and in fact are adding them at one station thanks to a federal grant (the locality for this is not important for my point). That is part of the problem. Local governments have become far too dependent upon the state and federal governments for funding. But in times of economic downturn the well is running dry.

California’s problem is exacerbated by Prop. 13 that dates back to 1978. Local property taxes were severely limited and ever since local governments have been hard-pressed to provide services, even basic services (even though some local governments do waste money on inflated pensions and job perks and possibly unnecessary and grandiose projects).

It looks as though citizens are finally going to be called upon to foot the bill for the services they demand in a more direct fashion.

Now of course true libertarians, which I am not (only sympathetic at times), would say everyone should pay their own bill for everything and government is only there for perhaps the common defense (and that is iffy) and keeping a record of who owns what.

But it would or will be healthy if the citizenry at large is closer to the money and can see first hand how much is available and can prevail upon their elected people on the more localized level concerning what spending priorities should be, rather than depend upon some mythical endless pot of money from far away. When you depend upon help from big government, you also submit yourself to the control of big government. Also the supply of money is not really endless, which we are all funding out with some amount of pain.


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