Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Creative Coercion

Mesa's $40 million budget shortfall is being billed as "Armageddon" and "Apocalypse" by Vice Mayor Claudia Walters and other city council members. To hear Walters talk about the problem "the community she bought her home in" is at stake.

But what the biblical Chicken Littles in Mesa don't realize is that government spending is not a measure of community strength; it's a reflection of its weakness.

Consider the almost $14 million, more than a quarter of Mesa's prospective deficit, tied up in funding for the arts and museums. These are certainly necessary attributes of a strong community, but what does it say about the strength of a community when its citizens must be coerced into funding them by the taxman?

Government spending is not a measure of community strength; it's a reflection of
its weakness.


The same goes for stadiums and convention centers; if citizens want them, they should fund them voluntarily, not with taxes.

Is it possible the Mesa Arts Center could raise its $4.7 million budget through ticket sales and donations? If it cannot, then the community that Vice Mayor Walters decries losing is already lost.

Governments do best what individuals alone cannot, like provide police and courts; when it comes to cultural development, convention centers, and stadiums, leave it to individuals to pick up the tab through ticket sales and donations. Walters may be surprised to find her community is stronger than she seems to think--cut the funding and we'll find out.

No comments: