Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 74
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for February 1, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

Last Saturday night, ABC TV showed a special “John Stossel Goes to Washington.” For those who didn’t see it, its general thrust was to show many of the things that government does poorly, comparing the results of government paternalism to results when a group or function escaped from that paternalism. I thought it might be interesting to apply similar analysis locally.

We read that a local bus service will start running in May. This service actually intends to lose money, since the projections shown in the past indicated that fares would meet only about 12.5% of costs. The balance will have to be made up from ‘donations’ and, ultimately, by taxpayers. Meanwhile, it will compete with privately-owned taxi services (who doubtless were never given a chance to compete).

Certain ‘volunteer’ programs working with youth have recently been started. The first thing one of them asked for was a city-owned place to work from – then it asked for limited charitable funds controlled by the city to hold a banquet for its ‘volunteers.’ Another group deals with sports; one can’t tell from news coverage whether its intent is to supplant or to supplement the existing independent sports programs whose only call on the city is to rent facilities. In contrast, the ‘Blind’ Boone Park group is restoring a city asset, asking mostly non-interference & receiving only minimal assistance from the city.

It’s my understanding that the city-run ambulance service runs a deficit. It replaced a series of private services that also lost money. The real problem is that government control of prices via limited Medicare reimbursements make it difficult for any service to make break even. The difference is that the city can tap the taxpayers to make up the deficit.

I read that someone has proposed controlling trash collection services in town and requiring curbside recycling. That’s do-gooderism at its worst. Our system works; our trash was picked up despite December’s weather while Kansas City’s government-run system left garbage sitting at curbs for weeks. Private entrepreneurs provide recycling for those interested. Besides, private curbside recycling happens on a grand scale during the spring and fall cleanups.

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