Don’t Trash Fresno

Sorry to disappoint…but this isn’t a dissertation on environmental responsibility. It is however a simple case for human responsibility. Earlier this year the Fresno City Council rejected Mayor Swearengin’s proposal to “privatize” the trash collection process. In reality the proposal did little to privatize anything. It only transferred responsibility to a privately-owned government-contracted company. The difference is not substantial. PG&E is a private company, but they might as well be Cal-Trans because our local government gives them a monopoly on energy supply. The Mayor’s proposal would achieve the same results: Slightly more desirable than the current mess of a system, but hardly a free-market victory worth cheering for. Why isn’t anyone asking the obvious question: Since when does it make sense to expect politicians to take out the trash? Wait a minute…you aren’t suggesting…Yes, actually, I am. Eliminate all trash collection services immediately. Is it really so radical? Before the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 waste management was largely a mom and pop operation. People could dispose of their own waste to save a few bucks. A neighborhood family could volunteer to take out their neighbor’s garbage. People could even drop off their refuse at the local pig farmer to be recycled into feed. Competition thrived, prices dipped, and thousands of jobs existed. Was America one giant dump prior to 1965? I’m not sure because I wasn’t there. I’d venture that the huge influx of immigrants and our status as the most powerful nation in the world were some indicators that we weren’t a nation hiding under a heap of garbage. Yet, as is its nature, government refused to keep their hands out of a situation that didn’t require their attention. Why can’t we dispose of our own garbage? Why do we need a group of 100 people hired by politicians and paid by our tax dollars to do what any high school student could do on the weekend? Why do we allow them to negotiate ridiculously high wages that in no way reflect the amount of work or skills required to do that work? Forgive me for being optimistic and failing to believe that Fresno would bury itself under all our garbage if the city didn’t save us from ourselves. Sure, there are people that would live in squalor. But have you noticed that the people who want to live that way already do? Those of us who care about sanitation would find a way to take out the trash. It wasn’t such a radical idea 46 years ago and shouldn’t be classified that way today. Unfortunately, once government takes a hold of something they rarely let go. Congratulations trash collector guy. You’ll keep your high-paying-perfectly-secure-health-care-providing-pension-pending job…for now. Maybe people will figure out that feeding garbage to pigs is a lot cheaper…or are we already doing that?

What is “Quantitative Easing?”

Ever wondered what the talking heads mean when they say “quantitative easing?” Or how the federal reserve system works? This video explains it…and might even bring a laugh or two, if you can keep from banging your head against a wall.

Measure Q – More of the Same

“Voters in the Fresno Unified School District have a chance to improve every school in the district without increasing their taxes.” This is the defense of Measure Q, a bond measure being considered by Fresno Unified voters in the upcoming election. Let’s look at the tax statement first. It is possible that Measure Q won’t increase my taxes, though still unlikely. The plan is to borrow $280mil…whoa, they didn’t tell me that! Well, that’s exactly what a bond is. Imagine financing your next vacation entirely on a credit card; that’s what Measure Q would accomplish. We might not have to pay taxes on the $280mil, but someone will. The fine print of the measure states, “the bonds will be payable only from the proceeds of tax levies made upon the taxable property in the District.” You don’t hear that line in the commercials. Teachers and supporters of this bill have noble intentions, but they have a fundamental misunderstanding of public debt. Suppose you lend me a $20 bill – or $19.50 if you consider interest charges – and I give you a piece of paper saying, “IOU $20 next Monday.” I take my fresh twenty and go spend it on a nice dinner. Then Monday rolls around and you hand me the piece of paper. I reach into your wallet, pull out a different $20 bill, and hand it to you as I crumple up the IOU. That situation would be ridiculous, but I challenge anyone to provide an exception between that simple analogy and the proposed borrowing.

Furthermore, the illusion that increased funding will miraculously fix Fresno Unified’s many problems is desperately misguided. Despite the whining from administration and teacher’s unions, education funding increases EVERY YEAR. Why then do dropout rates persist and test scores flounder? That’s too big of a question for anyone to answer, but it raises awareness to the fact that public education is a failed experiment in government monopoly. Instead of the age old argument that schools don’t have enough money, reform legislation should address teacher’s unions that force equal pay for unequal performance and make it nearly impossible to fire its members. Or how about allowing charter and private schools a fair competitive market through tax incentives and vouchers? Unfortunately, misleading advertising will undoubtedly seduce an uneducated public to buy in to this measure and instead of real improvement in our public schools we’ll see a continuation of the current policies which are preventing success.

 

“Fear the Boom and Bust” a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem

This is a great intro for anyone interested in Keynesian economics vs sound Austrian principles. Isn’t it awesome to see libertarian views breaking into the mainstream?

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