If you oppose Casinos or slots – call Governor Patrick Monday. Tuesday might be too late! Do you oppose Casinos and expanding gambling like slot machines into our state? Do you believe it is locals with modest incomes who will drop most of the money into the black hole of gambling and cause law enforcement, indigent defense, and child welfare costs to skyrocket? Then call Gov Patrick MONDAY and voice your opposition; Tuesday might be too late! In the last several days, I’ve extended personal invitations to people who oppose predatory gambling, and who are really busy or don’t have computers. People forget, procrastinate, get busy. But tomorrow might be your last day to weigh in. Governor – 617 725-4005 888 870-7770 People are telling me email boxes are filled – try tomorrow. Better to call. Tomorrow might be the most important phone call we make on this issue. Remember, the costs of indigent defense, law enforcement, child welfare, and numbers of bankruptcies will soar – and without casinos, our economy in Massachusetts is doing much better than Nevada or New Jersey with casinos. Please take five minutes and call the Gov and ask him to vote no – [...]
BrooklineTom has a fine post up today about the flooding in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston. His post is an example of what folks here at BMG do very well — highlight local events and place them in a broader political context. However, something in the post rubbed me a bit the wrong way. After thinking about it a bit more, I realized that what caught my attention is part of a broader issue that is perhaps worth a separate post (hopefully you’ll forgive the point of personal privilege to go off on a tangent from BrooklineTom’s post).
In his post, the flooding of several communities here in the Commonwealth is characterized as “government failure” – in this situation, local government specifically (though not exclusively) is to blame. In other contexts and with other issues, however, the rhetoric of “government failure” is the same. Sometimes it’s the state government that has failed. Sometimes it’s federal government agencies that have failed because they’ve become “captured” by the industries that they are supposed to regulate.
The rhetoric of government failure spans the political spectrum. Conservatives have long bashed government as “the problem” rather than the solution. Progressives have also picked up the “government failure” meme, epitomized perhaps by the crusading Ralph Nader and the surrounding public interest movement in the 1960s, who argued that government regulators often fail to do their jobs — or live up to their “obligations”, as it is characterized in BrooklineTom’s post. Sometimes both sides are correct — government has failed, perhaps because of laziness or conflicts of interest. But more often than not what you have is hard-working people in the public sector trying to do their jobs, but tied down by a lack of resources and support, the glaring media spotlight, and excessive red tape. Due to the prevalence of the rhetoric of “government failure” on all sides, they are set up with impossible expectations and harangued when they fail to meet them, whatever the cause.
Another typical summer thunderstorm moved across Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston yesterday. Yes, it rained hard for awhile. This was an expected, predicted, and perfectly commonplace summertime weather event. Major portions of our urban infrastructure failed. Storrow Drive flooded. The Fitchburg line of the commuter rail flooded. McGrath Highway in Somerville flooded, as much as twelve feet (according to eyewitness reports). Commonplace storms like this should not cause these kinds of problems. Local government has failed, miserably, in its obligation to build and maintain public infrastructure. Our media has failed to convey the actual impact of decades of reckless tax-cutting and greed-driven faux-populism. Voters support elected officials who lie about the real and immediate impacts of ill-considered tax cuts in no small part because the media is unable or unwilling to publish the facts about the impact of those cuts. While Damsel-In-Distress Rescued By Heroic Firefighters stories make great Herald front pages, the truth is that local government is failing. Yesterday’s flooding exemplifies the consequences of substituting pure greed for public policy, for decades. We must do better. We must raise, not lower, local government revenues.