Monday, April 6, 2009

Penny wise, Pound foolish

Sometimes I wonder if the people in charge of spending our money get it. By "it", I mean reality. I am sure that Ken Ulman could tell us all about environmental sustainability, but he appears to have no concept of fiscal sustainability. Ulman has $14 million in the proposed capital budget this year for the new Miller Branch library, and is going to spend a total of almost $100 million to build new and renovate existing libraries over the next 5 years. Ulman has also given Rec and Parks a fairly obscene amount of money to build new projects.

Ironically, one of the things that Ulman is considering cutting is library hours and park maintenance.

"Everything is on the table," Ulman said, speaking on Dan Rodricks' radio call-in show on WYPR. "You're going to see some reductions in services -- parks not maintained, some reduction in library hours."

I have no objection to cutting hours at the library or park maintenance, I think it's a great idea. But why spend millions to build new parks and libraries when it is necessary to cut services from those that exist now? What is the guy doing?


PZGURU said...

He's spending money so that he can reap the personal political benefits of it. If he builds parks, soccer moms and kids will give him a good grade. They don't/won't think about the financial apsect of how it's paid (or that it ultimately comes out of their pockets) or how unwise it is to spend it.

It's just like those flower gardens along the highways throughout MD. Sure, they look pretty , but why does the state need to spend millions of dollars on "beautification" projects? If it's not a necessity, then it should not be funded.

Anonymous said...

Hey hey. Lay off the flowers.

But it is a puzzle regarding spending on expansion while simultaneously cutting service. Good catch.

Regarding soccer moms forgetting about the hours cut and not focusing on how the expansion was paid - what do you think it will take for people to start voting incumbents out? Will voters have to become jobless, or will a neighboring county like Cecil hit with joblessness be enough to start paying attention?

What would it take? Does anyone mind that politicians spend on expansions while cutting services of those same expanded facilities? Or maybe it's just good enough that he's a Democrat.

Freemarket said...

anon, the voting process is working as it can be expected to. Special interests (both corporate and citizen) use it to steal power. Political freedom comes at the expense of economic freedom.

Anonymous said...

When you use the term 'steal', it give the reader the impression that you're opposed to such a system.

What is the resolution?

And the econ power vs. pol power I'm not sure about. Do you mean to say that as long as we're not poor we'll keep the incumbents?

Anonymous said...

Do you understand the difference between capital and operating budgets?

freemarket said...

Yes, and I was clear in noting that the library/park expenses were per the proposed capital budget, although not so clear that the library hours/park maintenance were to save on the operating budget. Keep in mind that both budgets consume resources either now or in the future. Making a big deal about the distinction between them is as foolish as distinguishing between water in the deep end vs. the shallow end of a swimming pool.

Anonymous said...

If this blogger is not already in public office, perhaps he could run for office to offer a better solution.

Freemarket said...

Or, I can offer a better solution right now. Let people buy/share/rent books and other media with their own money and do away with spending mega millions of tax dollars on libraries.