Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Budget Stupidity

The Financial Times -- which has one of the most ridicules copyright policies of any newspaper -- has a story today about the city of Vallejo California. They had to declare bankruptcy, so now there are almost no city services to speak of. Potholes are everywhere and the police are horribly understaffed. The paper goes on to note that this is the future for more than a handful of U.S. cities.

But here is the rub: it's all the unions fault for demanding outlandish benefits packages. Never mind that all the parties to the contract sat down at the same table at some point and negotiated a contract in good faith, and never mind the fact that contract terms and conditions and enforcement are a bedrock principal of the legal system. In addition, never mind that collective bargaining equalizes the negotiating process, making any contract negotiated through collective bargaining that must more viable from a contract theory perspective. Also note that despite the love of law and order and always siding with cops and firefighters because they do gods work and they are so brave, now we see politicians running for the doors.

Here's the real answer, ladies and gentleman: if you want a nice country, you have to pay for it. That's the bottom line. A country the size of the U.S. requires an expansive infrastructure. We need solid roads, schools, court houses and the like to operate. These things are not free. Yesterday I noted that my home state of Texas is cutting school spending to the bone -- again. This will hurt our competitiveness in 20 years -- long after the idiots and yahoos who made the cuts are out of office. But that is long-term thinking (actually that is thinking in general regardless of the time frame over which we are projecting the intellectual results) which is beyond the pale for most of our culture.

The reality is the U.S. is an expensive country to run, plain and simple. If you want a nice country, you have to pay for it.