Anti-Taxman

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Creative Loafing's John Sugg has written a warm profile of Georgia tax-fighter John Sherman, with nods along the way to other critics of government bureaucracy, including Reason Foundation chairman Harry Teasley. I don't agree with all of Sherman's remedies for overgrown government—in particular, his enthusiasm for city/county consolidation seems misplaced—but he's clearly on the side of the angels.

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  1. when your baby starves because you couldn’t get food stamps, thank this guy!

  2. That’s right, if YOU can’t afford to feed YOUR baby, it’s the taxpayer’s fault.

  3. I guess neither Anonymous Troll nor Jay D. could be bothered to read the article before commenting on it. Food stamps are a federal program; this man’s efforts are local. Also, his focus is on eliminating government waste, not repealing the welfare state.

  4. My comments were directed only at Anon…not the article.

  5. Damn! There’s usually a little foreplay before the comments reach baby-starving, let ’em starve level.

  6. LMAO…sorry, I’m at the end of my work week and feeling a bit frisky.

    Cheers.

  7. Good story. Those in the journalism biz are all too eager to dismiss anti-government-crank types who do wild and crazy things such as attend meetings and study budget figures.

    I do think, though, that there is a lot to be gained by consolidation of services and entities at some levels of government. I’m not sure that I buy the idea that small, local governments are “competing” and thus are more efficient than larger ones would be.

  8. local governments are tremendously inefficient

  9. Curt: You might want to look into the work of Charles A. Tiebout, the economist most closely associated with the theory. The classic statement of his position is his paper “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditure,” which first appeared in the Journal of Political Economy in 1956.

    Obviously, this isn’t a market in the traditional sense of the word. But there’s a good case that competition between local governments helps both to keep public costs down and to tailor public services more closely to public desires. Relatively speaking.

  10. My wife is an auditor, and often does audits on local governments. I am often amazed at what they spend on seemingly irrelevant or unimportant items.

  11. i am an intern a a local government and we do nothing of any importance whatsoever. actually i am at work now as i type this making .00$ an hour. my next door neighbor is talking long distance about going to the lake this weekend. my other neighbor is fixing something to eat.

  12. when your baby starves because you couldn’t get food stamps, thank this guy!

    Well, here’s a thought… if you can’t afford to feed your kids, don’t f**king breed.

    Lovely troll feeding weather we’re having today.

  13. Competition doesn’t even begin to enter into the equation of why merging municipalities is a deadly idiotic idea: the fact is that it only increases bureaucracy, exacerbates labour relations that are already bad, makes centers of power even more remote and distant from the population, lowers democratic accountability, reduces efficiency of most services, and dilutes local identity. It doesn’t eliminate wasteful duplication or lower costs, it only creates a larger trough for inefficiency. It’s also all the rage in Canada (most recently in my my city, Montreal), which should tell you about all you really need to know.

  14. Combining governments doesn’t mean that all responsibilies are now assigned to the most remote level. In Sunbelt Sprawl America, merging the city with the county would work best if neighborhood councils were put in charge of certain functions.

  15. On Competition;

    Umm,? Sounds nice but bureaucracies by their nature, local or national, large or small exist solely to expand themselves. Competing local bodies still would not produce the profit driven mentality that keeps private entities lean and mean.

    Bottom line is, in my opinion, to have in place an infrastructure that is limiting by design (debt ceilings, caps on public employment spending, caps on social service spending et al). In this model, the consolidated theory would work in sync with stringent spending caps as more numerous local bodies would only create more cracks for money to fall through. Anyone who has ever served in the military, think back to when you had check on to or off of a base; bureaucratic hell. Very similar to checking into a state university.

  16. sorry when i said .00$ i meant 8.00$

  17. Jesse: I will do that, thanks. I assume by competition it is meant “competing for residents” or something like that, not competition in the strict marketplace sense.

    I’m thinking of a state such as Nebraska, which has many, many more rural schools than it can support. Consolidate those and yes, you lose something very personal and concrete, but you gain efficiency and better services for the money. And with declining population the state just can’t continue to support so many small districts.

  18. I agree that some consolidation is necessary.

    But it depends on the region and rationale. A few years ago, Peoria (city) made a loud attempt to abolish township governments in Illinois. Their reason was that by doing away with that level of government, they would “shrink government”–at least on paper.

    Since their idea was to consolitate township resources at the county level, it doesn’t take much of a thinker to see that their next argument would have been “this money should be spent where it does the most good”. In other words, the city of Peoria. And so, the outlying areas would have been denied services and only the city would have benefitted–and only a small percentage of them.

    On the other hand, township organization is determined on a county by county basis here. If Peoria simply wanted to abolish THEIR townships, that’s one thing. Attempting to force in on everyone else just so a bloated municipal govt. could get more scratch is another.

    Eh, my $.02

  19. Wow! Wish I could make $8/hr for doing NOTHING.

    Well, actually, I’d have to do something, I guess: I’d have to get into my car and just show up for “work.”

    Nice!

    And we are paying for that? Every day? Sheesh!

  20. “Those in British journalism are all too eager to dismiss American anti-government-crank types who do wild and crazy things such as attend meetings and study budget figures.” — Ben Franklin’s Philadelphia Gazette, 1774

    (Notice the DATE of the quote.)

  21. “It’s also all the rage in Montreal, Canada, which should tell you about all you really need to know.”

    Evan, how do you pronounce “about?”

    Always love it, the way you guys say that word up there. Sounds almost Scottish.

  22. Hey Tucson, I only live in Mtl. part of the year, and have tried mightily not to assimilate the patois too much. It might not be a bad idea, though: I come from Pennsylvania, and pronounce “about” something like “abou’.” Yeah, that impresses folk….

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