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February 15, 2011

Comments

Actually russell, in this case, small government is the solution. To get the roads plowed the taxes weren't raised, no more people were hired, the government learned to do more with less and did it better in the process.

A perfect conservative solution. You are a true Tea Partier.

For certain values of "small". YMMV.

You are a true Tea Partier.

LOL.

I'd say that enough government is the solution. I'm not looking for more than that. And I'm fine with doing more with less, especially when less is what is available.

It's basically an old Yankee town, we're cheap. We have a nice harbor and we're close to Boston, so there are some very wealthy people here also, but they never come to town meeting. And nothing gets spent unless it gets approved at town meeting. Less, or at least just enough, is usually what's available.

But net/net, the solution needs to be of a scale commensurate with the problem.

What I'd really like to call attention to is the sense of common purpose, and the sense of folks rising to the occasion and working together to do what needs to be done.

Russell, a quick question. How does the town deal with handicapped employees in doing this? I'm not suggesting not doing this just because there is a possibility that you need to hire a handicapped person and I'm sure that there are tasks a handicapped person can do on snow days (organize and assign workers, make up schedules etc) but I'm curious if the question has arisen.

"What I'd really like to call attention to is the sense of common purpose, and the sense of folks rising to the occasion and working together to do what needs to be done."

russell,

I wasn't kidding, what you described here is what almost every small town conservative I have ever met would tell you is the heart of our country. This is as conservative a solution (and story) as I can imagine.

I don't know about your town but I never knew if our Selectmen were Democrats or Republicans. Because the government at that level isn't of the people or for the people, mostly, it is the people.

Sounds like a great town.

A perfect conservative solution.

Except it is not even close to a conservative solution. A conservative solution would go something like one or more of the following choices:

1. The public employees would clear the streets, but be paid at a different rate of pay for the effort. This rate hovers at or just above the minimum wage.
2. Ignore the problem. It is mandated by God.
3. Contract it out to the private sector. Issue bonds to cover the expense.
4. Bomb the streets. Subcontract this out to the private sector. Issue bonds to cover the expense.
5. Use the need to expend this effort as a justification for laying off school teachers.
6. Blame the snow on Obama.
7. Use the snowfall event to justify lowering taxes on the rich.
8. Use the need to clear the streets of snow to justify lowering taxes on the rich.
9. Failure to clear the streets will show that government doesn't work.
10. Abnormal snow fall will mean we have to lay off or fire public employees.
11. This just shows that public employees are not pushed hard enough...after all, they have time to shovel snow and do their other duties, don't they?
12. This just shows that government is out to take over the private sector.

Read Russell's last graph. That is the heart of it.

13. Over the infinite time horizon, this will lead to a huge fiscal problem that will crush our great grandchildren in debt.

Yeah, bobbyp, because us conservatives never wrote a thank you note in our lives.

How does the town deal with handicapped employees in doing this?

I don't know. I'm not sure who, if anyone, in the relevant departments is handicapped.

I know we've tried to do some stuff for handicapped access, mostly driven by folks in the town who are actually handicapped.

I'm curious now, I'll see if I can find out.

I wasn't kidding, what you described here is what almost every small town conservative I have ever met would tell you is the heart of our country.

Yes, I get that. And I appreciate your replies and your thoughts here.

The odd thing is, what I've described here is what almost every liberal or lefty person would also say is the heart of our country.

Food for thought.

And yes, it has its flaws, but it is kind of a cool town. We run by Town Meeting, and have done so each and every year since 1639.

I appreciate your replies and your thoughts here.

I don't see why. His "You are a true tea partier" statement was a sort of self-conscious attempt at spewing BS in part as a taunt and in part as a provocation. He's purposely trying to muddy up the point when tea-partying Republicans like the governor of WI are openly calling for the national guard to use violence if necessary against public employees and typical republican reactions to public employees is out and out hate speech and violent threats against the middle class in a form of class warfare with the backing of Republicans who have been indoctrinated in belief systems that advocate the use of torture.

"I don't see why. His "You are a true tea partier" statement was a sort of self-conscious attempt at spewing BS in part as a taunt and in part as a provocation"

Because russell knows that the statement was neither taunt nor provocation.

"To get the roads plowed the taxes weren't raised, no more people were hired, the government learned to more with less and learned to do it better."

Yeah, deadbeats tend to count on the roads getting plowed without paying for it. They count on the good nature of their neighbors, yassuh.

God knows, we don't want to hire any more employees. Someone might do less with more.

Whaddya say, Americans do everything for nothing. It would cut overhead, stimulate charity, and pretty much let you f*ck the pony while riding it, for free, you deadbeat.

You don't get more for less.

Maybe you get the same for less, but not in Galt's Gulch.

Maybe you do it better and we cut your pay further, in which case, f%ck you.

14. Do battle with a cartoon version of your enemy, and WIN!

Oh. Wait. That makes for more of an equal-opportunity thingy. Nevermind.

As an aside, which I find amusing, I saw the following trivia question concerning MA politics somewhere, possibly the Boston Globe, recently.

Q: For what three towns in MA was Governor Endicott Peabody named?

A: Endicott, Peabody, and Marblehead.

What, not Athol?

LOL

I have to tell this story. It's a story about community, snow removal, and handicapped access.

Like Russell, I live in a suburb of Boston. My house is on the appropriately-named Main Street, a few blocks from our downtown. After a big snowstorm, usually during the night, our town public works department plows the sidewalks on all of Main Street. You'd think that my immediate neighbors and I are grateful for this "service", but we're not.

Our sidewalks are not smooth and even. You can't plow them down to bare pavement. The town's little tractor dare not bring its plow blade lower than about two inches above the mean surface. So the plow blade leaves ankle-deep snow behind itself. Then the tires of the tractor compact this residual snow into a washboard ribbon. By morning, the washboard has frozen into the hardest ice known to man.

After the last big snowstorm, when the fallen snow on the sidewalk was about 16" deep, my next-door neighbor and I shoveled a path down the whole length of our block. The neighbors on the other sides of us are elderly; the mail carrier who has to navigate the sidewalk every day is our friend; making our block's sidewalk passable for them seemed like a decent thing to do. So we cut a nice, crisp, shovel-wide trench down to dry pavement for our whole block.

I called the town DPW to say: "Please don't send the sidewalk plow down our particular block; we have made a nice path and the plow will just mess it up." The DPW man was very polite, very understanding. He acknowledged that the town's sidewalk plow does a lousy job. "But," he said, "we have to do the plowing, because the path has to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair."

Now, I am as politically-correct as the next ten guys put together. I am all for accommodating the wheelchair-bound, even though I have never -- not even on a pleasant summer day -- seen anybody in a wheelchair use our little stretch of sidewalk. I understand that the path my neighbor and I cleared -- while entirely comfortable for pedestrians -- afforded no passage to wheelchairs. I regret that we were too exhausted, after a couple of hours of hard digging to clear the street-plow berms across our own driveways, to make a wider path on the sidewalk.

But I just cannot get over the fact that after the town plowed our sidewalk the next night, our clean-down-to-pavement 18" wide trench got turned into a 48"-wide mess of frozen tractor-tire imprints and 2"-deep slush: treacherous for pedestrians and no less impassable for wheelchairs.

This is as local as a problem can get. My town is rather bigger than Russell's -- we have a City Council and a Town Manager -- but it's small enough that almost everybody knows at least one Town Council member personally. We ought to be able to work out some arrangement that's less absurd -- by next winter, at least.

We shall see. There may not BE a satisfactory solution. It's New England; we get snow in winter; there's no avoiding some inconvenience. But it is my hope that we can at least do something about the absurdity.

--TP

15. It proves that global warming is a hoax
16. We need actual global warming to get rid of the snow problem
17. Although Carbon Dioxide & Co.have nothing to do with global warming we have to subsidize pumping GHG into the atmosphere even more.
18. Halliburton in connection with Lockheed-martin has developed a nuclear powered snow melter that all counties will be obligated to buy even if the last snow there fell during the last ice age.
;-)

Seriously, it is neither a conservative nor liberal solution but looks more like actual common sense to me (defined in the traditional way not as the dog-whistle it has become).

A long time ago, when I still went to school and snow was less of a rarity, our class went out with the teacher shoveling snow and skipping the lesson on one occasion since it was considered that the former was in greater need of doing. There was actualy regret that this did not happen more often.

My town doesn't have sidewalks. I do, however, have a snow plowing story. A couple of years back, when the recession was hitting, the budget got voted down repeatedly in town meetings. After it failed a couple of times, my wife and I (who had just moved in) decided to go to the next budget meeting and figure out what the problem was. The problem was that a very small number of people - nearly all seniors - was going to the meetings and demanding that there be no increase whatsoever in their taxes (well do I remember the claim that they didn't get a raise, so nobody else should either... which I'm not sure is true, considering that SS does give cost of living increases most years). Now, our town's budget is 81% school money (of which half is to a regional middle/high school and that budget is set before our town's, so we're locked in). So there we were, haggling over the 19% of the budget that pays for the town's non-educational operations. Snow plowing came up. Someone literally suggested cutting the plowing/sanding budget in half (or completely, I can't recall). The town doesn't need to plow the roads. Oh, and get rid of the state trooper too, we don't need a cop. Thankfully, these were not majority positions. Some of us actually need the roads plowed so we can get to work. 1 cop for the town doesn't seem excessive. Anyway, we got through it (we mostly got lucky - some state grant money came through).

...

I work in Hartford, though, and there are still bits of roadway that are unplowed right here in downtown. Major roads that, oh well, don't really have a bus lane for over a month. Which does predictable things to rush-hour traffic. This pisses me off, because it seems like such a basic function of government. There shouldn't be any disagreement about it: the roads should be cleared. I'm not aware that there *is* any such disagreement. But the roads aren't plowed properly. Grr.

Thus endeth my rambling semi-rant. Thanks, I feel better.

I'm sorry but I don't think the story has anything to do with conservative philosophy based on what people who call themselves conservative do.

Russel's story is about team spirit and practicality. There is a problem, everyone gets together and does the logical thing to solve the problem. I wish conservatives functioned like that!

Let's try that with the problem of systematic racism as expressed by Jim Crow laws. Conservative response? At best the conservative response was so sad, too bad, its against my philosophy to help out.

Our national budget deficet? The conservative politicians caused that. Oh wait--all those politicians who call themselves conservaties and who are elected by voters who call themselves conservatives and who were generally acknowledged as conservative when they were pushing conservative policies like cutting taxes during a war aren't conservatives now that they have made a mess. (This is an example of why I don't think beieve the ocnservative philosophy is what conservatives say it is.)

How about the problem of large numvers of working people who can't afford health insuurance and thhe negagtive ripple effect that has on the whole health care system? The conservative politician response: lies, basically. Some denial that there is a problem, lots of blaming the victim, some pity for the poor rich person who's hard earned extra money is shifted over to thelp out the working person who can't afford health care.

Illegal immigration? Those people are cutting off the heads of other people and leaving the bodies on the border! Etc. Etc. At any given point in time a problem has existed which has provided conservatives politicians with the opportunity milk the problem for it's hate and fearmongering potential: red scares, gay marriage, bums on welfare...

It's really hard to think of a problem facing this country for which the role of conservatives hasn't been to obstruct solutions whitout offering anything suubstantive and helpful to the converstation.

Faced with a real problem the pattern with people who call themselves conservatives and are genrally recognized as conservatives by other people who call themselves conservatives is to either
1. say there is no problem
2. blame the victim
3. say there is a problem but it si so sad that their philosophy prevents them from using government to solve it
4. do some thing stupid like start an unnecessary war or cut taxes while spending money and then blame the result on Democrats or say that the politicians who made the mess aren't conservatives after all.
5. profit from the problem by using it for demogoguery


No team spirit. No practicality either. Suppose the snow had just fallen on the wrong side of the tracks in Russells' town?

bobbyp, et al.
Clearly you have not been paying attention. Otherwise you would not have failed to list:
19. The only reason that there is a snow problem in your town, russell, is that you are in Massachusetts and it allows gay marriage. Obviously

Marty, this part of the post:

"Unlike many other communities, the town does not hire private contractors to help plow the streets. Instead, members of all the town’s departments — Cemetery, Water and Sewer, Park and Recreation, Tree and School — come together to help out with snow removal, providing an efficient and cost-effective method."

does not make me think their approach was consonant with the Republican/Conservative/Small-government approach as it is preached (and definitely not as it is practiced). Avoiding private contractors (i.e. businesses) in favor of city government employees doing something because city government employees do it better and cheaper actually supports the thesis that government is sometimes superior in handling problems. I fail to see how it qualifies as small government.

"To get the roads plowed the taxes weren't raised, no more people were hired, the government learned to do more with less and did it better in the process."

Taxes weren't raised? What does that mean? Raised when? Relative to the previous year? Because I am pretty confident that in order to pay the city employees, taxes were levied that year. And we don't know when they were last raised or lowered. No more people were hired? Again, more than what? What if 5 years ago, the town had too few municipal employees to handle the average snowfall; it then hired additional people 4 years ago, and since then has had no additional hires. Just because X is sufficient to do Y does not mean it will always be so; it does not mean that X became X only be decline or shrinking.

Russell: "enough government"

This. Why must it always shrink? Have we learned nothing from Goldilocks?

*it's more important that the snow be cleared than that it be done as cheaply as possible*.

The "community" below will eventually disabuse your community of such a notion:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2011/01/the-rise-of-the-new-global-elite/8343/

Galt's Gulch, like the alien craft from War Of The Worlds, is buried just below the surface of Bedford Falls' town square.

Here it comes.

I find it amusing that Galt's Gulch bankrolled the Tea Party's illusion of getting more for less, or even less, which is where it's going.

I find it amusing that high-speed rail, featured prominently in the trailers for Dagny Taggert's new porn vehicle "Atlas Shrugged", seems to get built in mostly statist countries, but the Galtians cancel the projects in Bedford Falls.

For amusing, think of Madame Defarge cackling and knitting and cackling.

That kind of amusement.

In China, they call John Galt the Import-Export Bank, wholly owned by Galt's enemies in the Chinese government.

But if you hope to travel between LA and Las Vegas on the latest technology, waiting for John Galt to come up with the financing will be a bust.

I suspect he preferred the way the Chinese built the original railroad system (more for next to nothing) in the western U.S., than the way the Chinese will build the new generation system.

Tyro:

His "You are a true tea partier" statement was a sort of self-conscious attempt at spewing BS in part as a taunt and in part as a provocation. He's purposely
That's neat. Now tell me what I'm thinking, too.

Where do people get this idea that they know what other people are thinking, their intent, and are entitled to announce on behalf of other people what they really mean?

I've never understood this. Can I now explain, quite insultingly, what you really meant?

Because that would be pretty stupid of me, since I don't know what you thought. I can only guess, and guessing about what someone else has in their heart and mind isn't very wise.

Because most people are really bad at it.

Personally it makes me nuts when people pull that on me, because they're usually wrong.

And unless you can tell me, oh, which three books I'm thinking of now, and can prove me wrong, I'm going to tell you that you can't mind-read, either, and kindly suggest that you and everyone else please consider stopping making such claims. They're very unhelpful.

Thanks.

You want to argue with Marty? Fine. I do it all the time. Argue with his words, not with your imaginary version in your head, no matter how sure you are that you're right.

It's just not fair to try to pull that, because you're not a mind-reader, and you're very possibly wrong.

If you don't think so, fine: prove it.

I appreciate your replies and your thoughts here.

I don't see why.

I have to add this: you don't don't see why someone would be kind, generous, or presume good faith?

Really?

If I'm going to mind-read, I'd think that that would make you a very unkind person who is very small-minded.

But I don't mind-read, and I'll simply suggest that you consider that people are not two-dimensional, and that saying you don't see why someone should be nice doesn't display much generosity of spirit. I'm sure you're a better person than that.

Thinking that isn't mind-reading: it's treating someone as if they're acting in good faith. I suggest giving it a try.

RobinCT:

[...] .. which I'm not sure is true, considering that SS does give cost of living increases most years [....]
Don't know anyone who actually lives only or largely on Social Security, I take it?

It's very easy to look up:

What is a COLA?
Legislation enacted in 1973 provides for cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs. With COLAs, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits keep pace with inflation.

No COLA
There will be no increase in Social Security benefits payable in January 2011, nor will there be an increase in SSI payments.

How is a COLA calculated?
The Social Security Act specifies a formula for determining each COLA. According to the formula, COLAs are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). CPI-Ws are calculated on a monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A COLA effective for December of the current year is equal to the percentage increase (if any) in the average CPI-W for the third quarter of the current year over the average for the third quarter of the last year in which a COLA became effective. If there is an increase, it must be rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent. If there is no increase, or if the rounded increase is zero, there is no COLA.

COLA Computation
The last year in which a COLA became effective was 2008. Therefore the law requires that we use the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2008 as the base from which we measure the increase (if any) in the average CPI-W. The base average is 215.495, as shown in the table below.

Also shown in the table below, the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2010 is 214.136. Because there is no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2010, there is no COLA for December 2010.

COLA Summary:
Since 1975, Social Security's general benefit increases have been based on increases in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. We call such increases Cost-Of-Living Adjustments, or COLAs. Because there has been a decline in the Consumer Price Index, there will be no COLA payable in 2011.
And do you know what CPI uses?

First some relevant formulas.

There are tons of news articles on this:
Social Security COLA 2011: Cost Of Living Adjustment Not Coming
:

[...] The Social Security Administration said Friday inflation has been too low since the last increase in 2009 to warrant a raise for 2011. The announcement marks only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. This year was the first.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to schedule a vote after the Nov. 2 election on a bill to provide one-time $250 payments to Social Security recipients. Obama endorsed the payment, which would be similar to one included in his economic recovery package last year.

Obama had pushed for a second payment last fall, but the proposal failed in the Senate when a dozen Democrats joined Republicans on a procedural vote to block it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday that in the post-election session "I will be working hard to gain Senate passage for a proposal that ensures that America's seniors are treated fairly." [...] Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut, applauded Pelosi's promise to vote on the payments. But, she said, she doesn't understand why Congress didn't vote on the bill before recessing for an election in which Democrats are in danger of losing their majorities in both the House and Senate.

"I just don't understand it," said Kennelly, now president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "I don't care, Republican or Democrat, they say they care about the senior vote. They could've done it."

Annual cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are automatically set each year by an inflation measure that was adopted by Congress in the 1970s. Friday's announcement was triggered by the Labor Department's release of inflation numbers for September. The report showed that consumer prices are still lower than they were two years ago, when the last COLA was awarded.

The increase for 2009 was 5.8 percent, the largest in 27 years. It was triggered by a sharp but short-lived spike in energy prices to above $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008. When the price of gasoline later fell – to below $2 a gallon – so did the overall inflation rate. Seniors, however, kept their increase in benefits.
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"They received a nearly 6 percent COLA for inflation that no longer really existed," said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration and now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "It looks bad, but they're actually not being treated unfairly."

By law, the next increase in benefits won't come until consumer prices as a whole rise above what they were in the summer of 2008. The trustees who oversee Social Security project that will happen next year. They predict the increase at the start of 2012 will be 1.2 percent.

A little more than 58.7 million retirees, disabled Americans and surviving spouses and minor children of enrollees receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income. Social Security was the primary source of income for 64 percent of retirees who got benefits in 2008.

The average Social Security benefit: $1,072 a month.

Social Security is supported by a 6.2 percent payroll tax – paid by both workers and employers – on wages up to $106,800. Because there is no COLA, that amount will remain unchanged for 2011.

The absence of inflation will be of small comfort to many older Americans whose savings and home values haven't recovered from the recession.

"They are absolutely livid that Congress has bailed out banks, bailed out Wall Street, bailed out big car manufacturers and they didn't get a COLA," said Mary Johnson, a policy analyst for the Senior Citizens League. "Their costs are going up, and they cannot understand the government's measure of inflation. They feel it's rigged."

Betty Dizik, a retired tax preparer and social worker from Tamarac, Fla., said an increase in benefits would help her pay for medicine she can no longer afford to treat her kidney disease. At 83, her only source of income is a $1,200 monthly payment from Social Security.

"I think seniors are going to be upset because gas has gone up, food has gone up, things in the store are expensive to buy," Dizik said. "Let's face it, prices are rising and I don't know how they do the cost of living."

Claire Edelman of Monroe Township, N.J., said she was so hard up that at the age of 83 she applied for a temporary job as a census taker for the 2010 Census. She didn't get the job, so she gets by on a small pension from her job with the state and a monthly Social Security payment of $1,060.

"I can't understand why the Congress hasn't seen that there's been an increase in everything," Edelman said. "They say that nothing went up last year?" she added. "What's the matter with them?"

Damn those rich old people! Let them eat cat food, and be happy.

Pomeroy: Social Security Benefit Cuts “Completely Unacceptable”:

Pomeroy cited statistics that just 11% of all senior citizens are in poverty now, compared to 50% prior to Social Security, which celebrates its 75th anniversary on Saturday. Noting that the average benefit comes out to about $14,000 a year, Pomeroy and his colleagues on the call, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) repeatedly rejected any calls for benefit cuts. Schakowsky said that revenue enhancements, like bringing the payroll tax cap back to its expected level of capturing 90% of all compensation, would be preferable. The trio also rejected any talk of privatization with personal accounts in the stock market. “How much risk do you want to add into this system that pays $14,000 a year,” Pomeroy asked. “We need one place where income is completely dependable.”

Klein agreed. “My seniors are adamant against benefit cuts. They feel like they paid into it. For many, this is their sole basis of income day to day. It’s not something I’m willing to negotiate on.”

In addition to fighting cuts to the program, Pomeroy has introduced the Senior’s Protection Act, which would provide a $250 one-time benefit to recipients next year if the Bureau of Labor Statistics fails to enact a cost-of-living adjustment. 2009 saw no COLA because of falling prices, and there was a $250 benefit added to the Recovery Act. Pomeroy said he expected his bill to pass the House in September.

Asked about the deficit commission (the reporter actually called it the “cat food commission”) on which she sits, Schakowsky said firmly that “Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. In fact, the deficit would be $2.4T worse without Social Security,” because of the money raided from the Social Security Trust Fund. She acknowledged that some on the committee wanted to cut benefits, but she was seeking other options and would reject any use of Social Security to pay down the deficit.

A new poll out today shows that the public opposes any benefit cuts to the program. This is consistent with the findings of these three Representatives as they talk to constituents in their districts. When the Washington Post talks about “deniers” that Social Security needs reform, in the name of cutting benefits, they’re talking about the overwhelming majority of the population.

Now let's jump over to Eric's thread and talk about fake austerity some more.

But:

well do I remember the claim that they didn't get a raise, so nobody else should either... which I'm not sure is true, considering that SS does give cost of living increases most years)
I'd suggest spending three minutes checking your facts before being sure or not what's true. It's people's lives you're talking about. It's worth three minutes of your time unless you think it's living a life of luxury to live on $14k a year: is that what you live on?

So, a few thoughts...

First, it was pretty clear to me that Marty was responding in good faith, was not bringing any BS, and was not trying to be provocative. And I agree, an assumption of good faith is a good way to go.

There are aspects of the situation in my town that are very appealing to the conservative point of view. The town manager and selectmen were prudent with public resources, they did not spend everything in the budget and saved some for a rainy day, they did some due diligence to figure out which would be the most cost-efficient way to clear snow. It also demonstrates folks at a local level going the extra mile when needed to deal with their own stuff, and without requiring "extra help" from above, or outside.

Nothing wrong with any of that.

From my left-leaning point of view, it's an example of an effective public effort to address a public problem, using public resources. I believe in the value of public, civic life, and in the value of government as an institution that makes public life work.

I'm not surprised that it would *also* appeal to conservatives for the reasons I've named above. In fact, it makes me happy to find areas where folks can agree about something.

I offered the story mostly as a counter to the knee-jerk tendency to disparage public institutions, and especially the tendency to assume that public employees are incompetent, lazy, or in any way freeloading on the public dime. Some do, some don't, and the same is true in the private sector. Trust me on that last point.

And yes, that tendency is widespread in conservative circles in this country. IMO it's reckless, foolish, and destructive, and it generally ignores the value of what people in the public sector do.

The common assumption is that any private solution will be more efficient and effective than any public solution. That assumption is only going to be true in cases where the motivation of maximizing ROI aligns nicely with whatever the hell it is you're trying to do.

Those cases are far less common than folks seem to think.

The folks in my town work hard, they do a good job, and they don't get paid a hell of a lot for it either. My guess is that that same is true in your town, county, state, and in the federal environment. I've found it true in all of the encounters I've had at each of those levels.

The point of bringing up an example from the local level is basically to demonstrate all of that in terms that are tangible and easy to grasp, for any of us. Most folks have to drive, and many of us have to drive in bad weather. It's something everyone can relate to.

Tony, I hear what you're saying. Governments are generally bureaucratic organizations, heavily invested in whatever process they currently operate by. The result is a lot of stupid stuff. I'm not sure what the solution to that is, other than to learn to work the system where you can and to sweep up the stupid where you can't.

Rob, likewise. You gotta go to town meeting. It's a PITA.

First, it was pretty clear to me that Marty was responding in good faith, was not bringing any BS, and was not trying to be provocative. And I agree, an assumption of good faith is a good way to go.

I think your statement about Marty is wrong, and his intent was clear from the context. Everyone has a presumption of good faith when first encountered, but they do not retain that presumption over and over again when they have a track record of deliberate obtuseness and a desire to annoy. It's not like I've never read anything from him before.

OK, well, different strokes.

Russell,

Marty is entitled to believe that the town's Norman Rockwell response was 'conservative'. I take your point it depends on what you define they are trying to conserve (resources, money, etc.).

However, to conflate the town's public snowstorm response with what currently calls itself "conservatism" and "Tea Party(ism)" is simply over the top wrong. Today's conservatives do not espouse small town values when it comes to economics, public service, the commons, or the concept of public goods.

They are, in fact, mouthing an extremely radical (19th century) Liberal ideology that somehow is overlaid with heaping doses of corporatism, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, militarism, and socially reactionary ideas without somehow exploding.

Truly, a modern day political miracle.

Regards,

However, to conflate the town's public snowstorm response with what currently calls itself "conservatism" and "Tea Party(ism)" is simply over the top wrong.

In a lot of ways I'm inclined to agree with you. Modern conservatism has a strong and IMO reckless impulse to eliminate or at least reduce the scope of public institutions of almost every kind.

That said, it's also not hard to imagine conservative people responding sincerely and in perfectly good faith to aspects of the situation in my town that resonate with what they consider to be conservative values.

You could argue that there's an inconsistency there, but that's not really the same thing as deliberate provocation or bad faith.

Frankly it makes me happy that a self-described conservative (if Marty is actually that, I'm not that would be how he describes himself) reads the article I cite and responds positively. It's an example of an effective public effort, anytime anyone wants to applaud that, I'm all for it.

In this indifferent world, where people become more and more estranged, it's really nice feeling to be that someone you miss and worry about!

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