This Bibleburgian Life

Longtime Friend of the DogS(h)ite Khal S. notes that the tax-loathing, big-gummint-fearing denizens of Bibleburg are profiled on this week’s episode of “This American Life,” carried on fine public-radio stations nationwide. Give it a listen and share my pain.

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35 Responses to “This Bibleburgian Life”

  1. Khal Spencer Says:

    Web version available 7 pm someone’s time.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Shoot,

      We got robbed of a TAL in our own backyard by a pledge drive. On KRCC Ira Glass was reprising some outtakes from on-stage interviews with friends, family and colleagues, and in between the locals were tugging on our patched coat sleeves for ha’pennies. And this after we kicked in four Cs last year. Bejaysis.

      Oh, well. An NPR pledge drive still beats the shit out of most radio and everything on teevee.

  2. BenS Says:

    For you Patrick, I bought the App. And happily too.

    Episode “Feel POG’s Pain” still not listed as of 9:23pm where I am.

  3. barry Says:

    It’s on for free here in NC at 11ish EST.

    Very interesting show.

  4. Khal Spencer Says:

    Its up here:
    http://podcast.thisamericanlife.org/podcast/459.mp3

    • BenS Says:

      Got it last night via the web instead of the iPhone app.

      Let me see if I have this right.

      Fire most city employees.
      Out source, sorry Privatize, the jobs.
      Rehire the fired employees by private contractor.
      Pay rehired employees less and reduce benefits. Reducing local spending.
      Private firms need to make a profit.
      City sees no savings.
      Same amount of taxpayer dollars spent but less of it goes employees and more goes to the few owners of private businesses.
      Added benefit – reduce support for the common good. Those that have will get.
      Meanwhile City services are actually dependent on sales tax not property tax so so call savings via privatization targets wrong problem.

      You guys are screwed if the tourism industry goes south again.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Plus we now have “strong mayor” governance (read: dictatorship) instead of a three-way involving a mayor, city manager and city council.

        The mayor is a real-estate broker — that lot, with the developers, have run Bibleburg since time immemorial — who thinks the Colorado Open Records Act is merely advisory.

        When pressed on his mania for doing the city’s business behind closed doors, Hizzoner tells the media to go fuck itself. “Engage legal counsel and come after us” is the precise phrase. To date, no one has taken him up on it.

        As for tourism, we big-gummint haters have a fallback position: big gummint. Fort Carson is growing like a tumor — it’s getting a new combat aviation brigade, and already has been augmented by an influx of grunts from Fort Hood. Then there’s the Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, NORAD, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

        Of course, Uncle doesn’t pay those folks real well. So we’ve got that going for us, too. Hm. Maybe we do need those tourists after all.

        Y’all come! Don’t forget to bring lightbulbs.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Funny how those small government aficianadoes inevitably live where Uncle Sam is anything but small. I get a kick out of it up here. The guy across the street and his wife are small govt aficianadoes. Of course, they get their paycheck courtesy of the Dept. of Energy.

      • John Says:

        “When pressed on his mania for doing the city’s business behind closed doors, Hizzoner tells the media to go fuck itself. “Engage legal counsel and come after us” is the precise phrase. To date, no one has taken him up on it.”

        Wait a second, PO’G, you mean you actually have a media that asks those uncomfortable questions? That simply doesn’t happen around Dysfunction Junction. Well, it did once a few years ago when the Trustees of Mesa State College met illegally behind closed door and with the tape recorder shut off, but it took the college newspaper to call them on it! The local paper and other media “reported on the controversy”.

        As long as the publisher of the local cage liner gets his way, nobody gets challenged on anything.

    • BenS Says:

      Kahl,

      From a Salon article you’d find interesting concerning who is living off the government more:

      “But the contradiction runs even deeper than that: Dartmouth political scientist Dean Lacy found the more a county receives in federal government payments, the more likely it is to vote Republican. The New York Times referred to Lacy’s research in its understated but still rather shocking feature, “Even Critics of Safety Net Depend On It.” As Lacy elaborated to a WNYC reporter: “The counties that are getting more in crop subsidies, housing assistance, and Medicaid payments are a lot more Republican. So it really is about that catch-all category that you might call welfare.” But because their local congressmen and women tend to defend that type of “welfare,” Lacy says, “they have the luxury of voting on social issues knowing that these federal spending programs will be kept in place.” ”
      http://www.salon.com/2012/03/04/whats_the_matter_with_white_people/

  5. Larry T. Says:

    BenS – you’ve just described Mitt Romney’s plan for the US of A if we’re stupid enough to elect him. I keep waiting for one of these CEO wizards to solve all the government’s and the people’s problems with these schemes, but they just can’t get it through their MBA hats that government is not a business and citizens are not customers. Yet they keep telling us their “business sense” (is that sort of like business ethics?) is the solution to all of our problems.

  6. Khal Spencer Says:

    We get a lot of our money via the gross receipts tax as well as through property taxes. With Le Bombe Factorie taking a 10-15% hit and RIFFing close to ten percent of the work force, things may be interesting up on the Hill Where the Bomb Hides (with apologies to Chuck Mangione). Both the GRT and assessed value might plummet.

    There is too much of an assumption that Uncle Sam will always be pouring shekels on this place in such quantities that one needs an umbrella. I’m not so sure. My feel of a vision up here ain’t quite as nice as Marvin Stamm’s:

  7. md anderson Says:

    On another front “Prairie Home Companion” did their annual joke show this past weekend, always look forward to that one.

    Today is sunny and warm for a change. Made for a good 47 mile ride into and out of “The City Different.” And now I’m watching coverage of Paris-Nice. I’m going to call this a good day.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      MD, the weather here has been likewise, if a tad windy. I got out for two-hour rides yesterday and today, and I plan a third tomorrow because the snow is s’posed to return on Wednesday. Waah.

  8. High Plains Drifters Says:

    Most big, really big companies, once a year or so, they get together and say, this is what we’re going to do: at the office level, you’ll do this; at the regional office, you’ll do that: at the district area, the other; and up at corporate, we’ll do this.

    Why is that so hard to figure out with government? A pot hole has to get filled, and no one really gives a shit whether it’s a local guy or someone from DC.

    There are economies of scale in doing things at the federal level. And there is a responsiveness and flexibility that you get at the local level. So for every problem, figure out which works best and just do it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Speaking of potholes, we have a bumper crop this season. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen ‘em this size. Some of them look like shell craters — seriously, anyone on a bike parks a front wheel in one and it’s hasta la vista, muchachos.

      I guess money must be tight for hot mix and people who know how to use it. Thank God we can afford a Chief of Economic Vitality and Innovation.

      • Steve O Says:

        They don’t even try to hide the fact that it’s all just back scratching and circle jerking, do they?

  9. Khal Spencer Says:

    Yeah. When all else fails, fire Jose, the guy who mixes the hot patch, and hire another Executive Vice President For Testing The New Brands of Toilet Paper.

  10. Ira Says:

    Interesting how someone can rationalize paying $300 for a street light is better than a $200 tax increase to provide the light and even more services. Is there that much distrust with government?

  11. John Says:

    As much as I consider myself a social democrat, I hate to admit that there is some truth in the “government is wasteful and inefficient” argument. While back in college I worked part time doing GIS for a local county division (I won’t say which…okay, yea I will, it was the Road and Bridge dept.). I was surprised at how many two hour (or longer) lunches these guys took, and how often department heads left for the weekend at mid afternoon on a Thursday. These department heads would get a fulls days pay just for showing up and checking their voice mail. The rank and file didn’t get these perks, but I did see them very frequently hanging out in the break room burning the last couple hours of the day just “shootin’ the shit” (these were redneck types after all). There was absolutely no sense of giving the tax payers their moneys worth.

    At least around here there is much room for improvement. What’s so wrong with treating the tax payer as a customer? It’s their money after all.

    The socialist and tax payer in me was appalled. At least until I figured out that they weren’t expecting much from me either.

    • Larry T. Says:

      John – no doubt there’s waste and inefficiency in gummint run programs, but is the private sector REALLY any different? Their two-hour lunches (wait a minute, we enjoy two-hour lunches all the time, as do a lot of folks in Italy!) just cost more and include more booze. As the show pointed out, there was no proof of money being saved by privatization in Bibleburg, though the benefits and pay to the poor folks actually performing the work were reduced. I have a tough time finding EFFICIENCY in this. Every time I hear one of these business-men talk of fixing government all I think of is the old phrase one hears just after being screwed over by one of these crooks – “no hard feelings, it’s JUST business, after all.”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      What Larry said. After getting off the gummint sugar tit at 18 — unless you count a bout of food stamps in college and another of unemployment insurance in the Eighties — I spent the next four decades in the public sector. And based on my casual observation of same, I’d say that when it comes to fucking up and wasting money it’s hard to beat your average capitalist.

      Look at the newspaper business, if you can bear to (I can’t). Or Wall Street. Or Detroit. Hell, Herself worked retail for the better part of quite some time before getting her master’s and a dream gig working for a statewide library cooperative. You should catch her take on the wankery practiced by the Invisible Hand of the Free Market sometime.

      And don’t get me started on the vampire-capitalist fuckwits who bought VeloNews because they were running short of jizz rags. That lot makes Paul Ryan look like Paul Krugman.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Have you read any of the recent comments over at what used to be VN? A lot of those folks seem to have a “People Magazine” level of interest/knowledge of pro cycling…it’s really cratered over there. But I’d guess the new owners must be making money selling advertising to British Airways and for “kick ass” training plans?

      • Steve O Says:

        The biggest problem with government is that, at some point, you have to hire people to do the leg work. And when you’re an hourly GS-4, there’s not much incentive to bust tail.

        Napoleon had it right. It’s amazing what someone will do for a piece of colored ribbon to wear on his uniform. The trick is, everyone has a different idea of what color looks good.

  12. Khal Spencer Says:

    From my vantage point, What O’Grady Said.

  13. James Says:

    I’d have to agree that there is a lot of wasting going on both sides of the fence. The one thing that makes me scratch my head (the above belt one) from time to time at work is that in the public sector there is little incentive to be efficient – either with work or costs or money.

    When I hear my co-workers say that they want to see efficiencies in the workplace I stifle a good laugh if only because some of them would not know efficient if it bit them in the buttocks.

    Nevertheless the thought of “government should be run like a business” makes sense to me if only because government is beginning to realize that no matter who ‘makes’ money it is the taxpayers who ‘fund’ government.

    Something tells me that soon enough the general populace will realize this, and demand some more fiscal accountability of the public sector. Unfortunately most of the populace is more worried about where their money should not go (thanks to ol’ Fat Blabbermouth RL) than where it should go.

    • Larry T. Says:

      James-this is one of those “conventional wisdom” things. The idea that the private sector is somehow more efficient by design is a myth. There are plenty of folks here who could counter every $600 Pentagon toilet seat example with one just as wasteful in the private sector. Handing government over to the likes of Romney means the country could end up like Sprawl-Mart. I don’t hold those folks up as a symbol for anything other than greed. “More for me, less for you” is their mantra, efficiency is rarely a part of the deal, as OG points out in his VeloNews example.

      • Steve O Says:

        $600 terlet seat … reminds me … Bill Gates didn’t pay his Excel programmers enough, so they hid a flight simulator in the code. Had to hit these random keys to find it. After flying around, you’d find a monolith with their names scrolling along. So, when you bought Office, it came in at something like 10 megs each for Word, PowerPoint, and Access, and 150 megs for Excel. That’s your private sector efficiency for ya.

      • art Says:

        @Steve O: They guys who coded ME must have gotten paid in scrotal kicks.

    • Steve O Says:

      Democrats need to learn that every program has costs and that top down isn’t always the best.

      But the Rethuglicans need to stop lying to themselves that they are materially different than the Dems. Every one of the jag-offs running, save for Paul, has had his share in making gubbermint bigger. And I’m still waiting for one of them to tell me, freedom to do what? when they get Wash DC off my ass. Last time I checked, I’m one fairly free mo-fo.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      There is more than enough blame to go around on this topic. There are certainly some public employees and unions that resent having a fire built under their asses. But I have been in more than enough private sector stores where I have seen similar aversion to hard work. I have been in plenty of public sector offices where I have seen evidence of fire under asses. The garbage men in Honolulu were legendary for their energy.

      So I don’t see this as a major difference. What seems to bring out the resentment is that historically, public sector employees have retirement plans and benefits packages which have been stolen from their private sector comrades. I felt a little bit of that heat when I was a public sector employee in Honolulu–the grumbling that somehow I had it better than they did. Beware of being talked into hating your fellow worker because some asshole like Governor Walker cleverly pits private vs. public sector workers against each other so he and his Koch Brother buddies can steal all the dinero.

      People have to remember that historically, public employees had lower salaries than a lot of their private sector colleagues and in return, got better benefits. That was a way for the public employer to defray the total cost of compensation to “manana”. Well, unfortunately when manana came, so did austerity. That has actually happened in both the public and private sector. The UAW, as part of the auto bailout, took over its retirement health plan. I know that because my old man is a retired UAW guy.

      The best way to promote better efficiency in the public sector is to reward it and to make sure the public workers and their unions have incentives to improve and disincentives to fuck off. When I was a professor, my unit’s dean made a deal with us–bring in lots of grants, and we could raise our own salaries to higher levels that what the university alone could pay. Guess what? We pulled in shitloads of grants, and in addition to paying ourselves well (sounds like capitalism to me), were able to hire more local folks on the grant’s dime thus putting money into the local economy with high tech, highly educated jobs. I often got in trouble when I was on the union board of directors for suggesting that other university units engage in similar sorts of evil incentive based programs, but I stand by them. We had one of the top Oceanography schools in the USA, and for a reason. People worked their asses off. All of us on the public sector side, to boot. Meanwhile, the private sector economy in Hawaii was putting people to work—folding sheets.

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