Governing with Fear
It is ironic that the Democrats, for nearly all of his eight years in office, charged that President Bush governed by fear; raising the specter of terrorism for political gain. Of course, all politicians use a little fear to keep their cushy jobs, the difference is that Democrats rarely get called for it.
Take, for example, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D-termined not trim the budget). He announced a plan for rolling closures of Philadelphia firehouses, in order to save $3.5 million out of a $4 billion budget. This is a common ploy by politicians–”give me my way or I will deprive you of fire, police and education services.”
A closer look at the city’s budget, however, reveals many easier ways to reduce such a relatively minor amount. The total fire department budget is a little under $189 million. (That is a little more than 2.5 times the size of the Mayor’s office–but I’m sure there is no waste, fraud and abuse going on there.)
So what about other, non-essential services? The library budget is nearly $33 million–a 10% cut would get the city 95% of the way there. If half of the library budget is operating costs, closing down the library’s twice a week for the rest of the year would generate about $3.5 million. But I guess Mayor Nutter thinks that the 2 or 3 people who use the library on a daily basis are more important than the millions that rely on the fire department to not, well, die in a fire.
And what about the $64 million “Economic Development & Arts and Culture Budget?” Can nothing be spared there? Is there no room to cut at the $4 million Office of Arts and Culture? Surely not–we would rather die in a fire than have one day without the Atwater Kent Museum.
I am not the mayor of Philadelphia, so I do not have access to the same information Mayor Nutter does. But I cannot imagine that that fine city is run so efficiently that the only option to save 0.1% of the budget, is to put its citizens at risk.