A Mysterious Trick of Government’s Population Management


Marc Monroe Dion articulates a truth of government, particularly municipal government:

“Oops!” Government says. “That money you gave us before? We spent that. Now, we need more money.”

“More money?” you say, talking around a mouthful of that macaroni and cheese that comes in the blue box. “I don’t have any more money.”

“Oh yeah?” Government says. “Well, we’re going to lay off all the cops AND all the firefighters, so when your house catches fire, there won’t be anyone to shoot the looters.”

Well, that scares the hell out of you, so you say maybe a little tax or fee increase would be fine, and the next thing you know you’re paying $1 for every rain drop that falls on your property, and you’re buying the macaroni and cheese knock-off that doesn’t even come in a blue box.

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My one quibble is that, to my experience in Tiverton, the threats start with the schools.  Dion’s writing from Fall River, so that might be a Massachusetts vs. Rhode Island thing given differences in school funding.  Or maybe it’s a city vs. suburb thing.  Safety is less of a day-to-day issue for suburbanites, and suburban parents might be more conscious of comparisons between school districts and between public schools and private schools.

Quibbles and speculation aside, though, it is discouraging how quickly government can push people past questions about where all the money went and on to fears about what services might be eliminated.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I am a taxpayer in Attleboro, so I have been following a debate about a ne high school in the news. The current high school is 50 years old and there is a debate about replacing it. Although I have not attended meetings, it appears from the reports I read that maintenance has been steadily deferred. So, now it is cheaper to build new. I think what it boils down to is that there are “grants” aplenty to build new, but maintenance is solely on the city’s hook. It appears that a new school will add about $500 to each tax bill.

    • Mike678

      True–the first thing to go in most budgets is preventative maintenance. Justin’s article touches on it. Take those mx monies and move it to salaries–once you give a person something it’s hard to take it away. As that pay is a given in the next budget year, soak the taxpayer when things start to break. Then go for a bond…..