“Politics” Won’t Clean The Streets

Fiorello La Guardia, onetime Mayor of the Big Apple, said, “There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets.” That was about 80 years or so ago. Another wise lesson we managed to forget in the name of Ideology.

Fiorello (“the Little Flower”) was the son of a Jewish mother and an Italian father. He spoke English, Yiddish, Italian, and Croatian. (He even went to school for a time in Prescott, Arizona. While a supporter of (parts of) the New Deal, he was actually a Reform Republican who closed down strip-tease joints and threw Luck Luciano’s slot machines into the river.

Unless one is an extremist Libertarian Minarchist, like the utterly mad Grover Norquist, who believes the government should be kept small enough to drowned in a bathtub (unless you NEED it), such a statement makes no sense.

There are no Republican or Democratic brooms, only brooms.

There are no Democratic or Republican trash bags, only trash bags.

Once you (carefully) scoop That-Which-Floats-On-Top off any government organization (and, it ain’t Cream, baby, believe me, it ain’t Cream) what is left are the career workers who run things day in and day out under any and all administrations. Rather, they have done so since we as a nation chose to end the folly of Patronage jobs and professionalized the bureaucracies of government.

Side note, all governments have bureaucracies. Growing up in a small rural county, I could walk into any of the county offices any time I liked and see my local government in action. Even so lowly an office as the County Clerk had a staff, and that means bureaucracy with all its rules, channels, and smooth passage. As well as inefficiencies. But there weren’t too many, not when Farmer Smith can go in and yell at the Road Commissioner for failing to grade in front of his driveway.

Some modern (and very ignorant) Republicans and Democrats would like to end this ‘bureaucratic corruption and waste”, and fire most of these hard-working people from their jobs. That they would have to replace them (with their own followers) is an unstated given of the process.

I recall many, many years back, in the city of Tucson, Arizona, a local businessman got outraged at the city council’s decision to raise water rates in order to pay for more infrastructure as the city was growing rapidly. He got on his high horse, and being an accomplished TV salesman, sold the voters on the notion of replacing the entire flopping city council with his hand-pocked stooges. The recall happened, the old council was evicted, the New Council installed. And three days later (or so) they revealed there would be a need to raise water rates MORE than the previous council had said.

I loved it!

At the same time, there are some Republicans and Democrats who what to increase the size of government (in the areas they favor) regardless what the Public thinks. Because… ideology.

True, a change of administration will make for small – cosmetic –changes in the operation of the government On Any Level! And for a day or a month, it will look real good, make the voters feel real fine, absent any radical legislating from the people’s representatives. But substantial changes are not going to happen.

There is no Democratic or Republican way to clean the streets. There is no partisan way to maintain the infrastructure on which everyone depends – UNLESS YOU WANT TO DAMAGE OR DESTROY THE INFRASTRUCTURE!

Don’t think you ought to pay for schooling other people’s kids? Remember that the next time you need a trained nurse and there are none. Remember that the next time you complain about how stupid the (other) voters are. Remember that when the kid at checkout can’t make change without a machine telling him what to give you.

Don’t think you should have to pay for the hospital bond? Next time you need the emergency room, remember it is not really a necessity.

Don’t think cops and firemen should get such fat pensions? When your house if being burgled or burning, and there’s no one on call, remember what a waste of your money those pensions were.

When Sammy the Loan Shark comes around for his pound, or your IRA stocks devalue in a callous manipulation, remember how stupid finance regulation is.

When the Black cop gets shot responding to a hold-up, will it be a case of #BlackLivesMatter or #OffThePig?

When your children cannot go to college without signing a Loyalty Pledge to the Current Prejudices, who will you blame — Right Authoritarians or Left Authoritarians?

When your pension is stripped from you because of something you said 50 years ago and is unpopular today, who will you blame?

Did I punch any of your buttons?

Jeez, I hope so.

There are certain things governments from town, to county, through state, to federal, are supposed to do, and certain things they are not supposed to do.

Governments are supposed to do what the owners want done. (In a democracy, that is all the people. In Oligarchy or Monarchy, other factors enter in). Usually, there is a need in any society higher than The Pack, for some means of securing the public safety, with police and fire, of securing the public health, of securing stability of business transactions and of the money supply, of educating the young (original purpose of schools in the US is to train citizens in how to be citizens, all else was ancillary).

But, let’s not allow common sense to stand in the way of a fine-sounding ideology. Or of partisan crap-slinging.

What are the proper functions of government which are not “Democratic” or “Republican”, “Liberal” or “Conservative”? Common sense, mostly. And for the items beyond obvious necessity, in a civilized nation, we negotiate with each other for the trade-offs inevitable in any economy. (If you want A, you cannot also have B.)

Your alternative is to live in a Mad Max world. A world of bestial Winners and savaged Losers. Is that what you want for your grandchildren?

Because without recognizing there are moral rules of behavior for society which must be inculcated, you can’t hire enough policemen to keep order. And the privileged Libertarians who think they invented anarchy as well with the privileged Social Justice protestors will find out why they should have not tried to tear down the world for an ounce of short-lived benefit.

Because politics won’t clean the streets.