Friday, September 19, 2008

The Case Against Government Efficiency

Don’t do it better. Do it bigger.

That seems to be the credo of The Association of Towns of the State of New York – the folks who obviously revel in the mockery of “local control” as somehow giving power to the people.

Okay, so those “people” are the ones who are in power at your local town hall – the folks who dole out the patronage jobs along with the SUVs, 52-inch HDTVs, lifetime health and medical benefits (even for the dearly departed) to the commissioners at the Sanitary Districts and their families – but hey, its great work, if you can get it.

But we digress.

Seems that The Association of Towns of the State of New York commissioned a study – prepared by Wendell Cox (any relation to Wally?) – which concludes that local control creates efficiency, saves the taxpayer big bucks, and keeps control of everything from water delivery to garbage collection where it belongs – local (as, in the hands of those who, for the last hundred years, or so, have maintained that stranglehold on your wallet by charging you more for trash collection than you pay for police protection).

Yes, as local as local taxation gets!

In Government Efficiency, The Case for Local Control, Wendell Cox opines, among other points of dubious contention, that “claims that local government consolidation would improve New York’s competitiveness are not supported by the experience.”

Of course not. We’ve rarely, if ever, experienced government consolidation in New York State, let alone in America’s largest township, where the tentacles of government are ever-expanding, reaching those treasured greenbacks wherever you may try to hide them.

The problem with The Association of Towns making the argument against consolidation is that it is as specious as it is self-serving. Kind of like the tobacco industry, having commissioned an “independent study” (conducted by the CEO of R.J. Reynolds), concluding not only that cigarette smoking is good for you, but, more than this, that nicotine prevents cancer, and may even be the long-sought after cure.

The Cox Report (and this is not meant as a sexist retort, mind you) concludes with a finding that may well prove true, assuming we ever get to that point – “New York’s system of smaller local governments are principal competitive assets.”

That’s smaller local government, right? Smaller, as in less of it? Smaller, as in less intrusive, fewer special districts, lower property taxes?

Hmmm. If you believe that, here in New York, we have smaller local government, or, even in some oblique sense, are headed in the direction of efficient local government, well then, hold on to your wallets, my friends, ‘cause we’ve got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

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