In a Wealthy Bay Area Enclave, No Money for Roads –

Article in the Wall Street Journal:

In a Wealthy Bay Area Enclave, No Money for Roads –


In 2010, only three cities in the region—Rio Vista, St. Helena and Vallejo —had roads ranked below Orinda’s using a federal rating index, according to a report by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional agency. The Bay Area average was 66, while Orinda’s came in at 51. A rating of 50 or below means a road’s surface is in poor or failed condition.

But Orinda doesn’t have enough money to repair the roads, a problem shared by many other cities in California faced with tight budgets. Orinda is heavily dependent on property-tax revenue, which has to be divvied with the state, because the largely bedroom community has relatively few stores and other businesses on which to levy sales tax…

What’s wrong with this picture? Orinda is one of the most affluent cities in California. Yet we can’t even repair our own roads. Ferraris, Aston Martins, Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs, among others are being damaged by these roads, yet there is nothing being done to address the problem.

So where is trickle-down theory? Where is the free market? How is it that a rich community can’t have nice roads? If there ever was a place that trickle-down theory would work, it would be in Orinda. Multimillion dollar homes, nice cars, plenty of wealth. Yet, no trickle-down.

This is why we have taxes. Taxes pay for stuff that people don’t or can’t. And when you don’t generate enough tax revenue, then there is not enough money to spend on the things you think that your government should provide.

Now, this is where some right wing conservative tells me that the problem is with corruption in the government, and that the government already taxes us enough to be able to cover needed road repairs, if there were no waste. I can somewhat agree with that. But where are the conservatives out there campaigning to reduce waste? All I hear are people out there who want to “starve” government, or lower taxes, or treat our teachers and other government employees as if they were indentured servants. Where is the honest debate on how to reduce corruption and increase efficiency?

I said “somewhat“. Paying for roads is just a small chunk of what your taxes pay for. Additionally, taxes pay for health inspections and disease control, airports and airspace management, fire and emergency services, banking and monetary protection, environmental, food and water cleanliness, schools, and all those other things (at the national level, taxes pay for wars and protection of your property from communists and others who might want to take it away) that together make up the “American Dream”. Before another politician champions “low taxes”, one should ask them how much tax revenue they think is needed to pay for the “American Dream”. They won’t have an answer because it doesn’t matter – the “lower tax” ideology/movement is out to kill the “American Dream”, along with the government that tries to provide that. To them, the “American Dream” is all entitlements and handouts to other people (even if they themselves, or loved ones, have directly or indirectly, at some point, enjoyed those same handouts).

Orinda’s situation is even more ironic. For years there have been debates on refreshing the downtown shopping areas, in order to bring in more merchants and with them, more tax revenues. The argument against has been that more shopping will bring in the unwanted elements – riffraff descending upon Orinda.



~ by mz on May 18, 2011.

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