Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Running Government Like a Business

A couple of stories that might not seem corr sent-related at first but really are. This one is a nice op-ed on a subject dear and near to the heart of a former school board member such as myself--our constant and consistent failure to maintain our public infrastructure, waiting until buildings cave or bridges collapse before we put the money necessary into them, and those dollars are always a lot more than we would have had to spend if we'd just wisely kept up. One of the things we always scrambled to do when I was on my school board was to identify the coming problem areas and do our best with our limited funds to prioritize and make sure the disaster didn't happen. And here's another case of failing to invest--inner city children in the United States of America in the 21st century are infested with parasites like children in Third World countries. And those children will travel into non-inner city areas, won't they? And grow up with health problems and end up in our emergency rooms and otherwise live lives we end up paying for, lives we don't think affect us and could have stopped from having their foreseeably damaging impact on all of us if we'd just made some smart up-front choices.

You always hear politicians arguing that "we should run government like a business" and then turn around and defund the needed maintenance on our shared community resources that no successful business would ever be so stupid to do, by definition. Don't paint, the house decays. Don't shore up, the house falls in. Don't save up for the unexpected, the house predictably gets hit by something unexpected. It's really simple, but we just throw public dollars away on our self-indulgent dramas, ignoring the ways proven to provide the most effectiveness at the least cost (here we finally get to corrections sentencing) while the decay and caving in occur, ignorant to the reality that someday that unexpected will happen and then we won't have a paddle at all. Call it what you want, fiddling while the house burns, eating your seed corn, life's short so eat dessert first, whatever. It's irresponsible and stupid, not by my judgment, but by history's. And history also shows that, when the crap hits, those most responsible are the ones who wail the loudest. Too bad we won't be able to afford all the prison beds those folks will deserve.

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