Monday, September 30, 2013

Wizards, Curtains And Emperor's Clothes

A rather strange system of logic has taken hold in the Wold and it is exposed by the juxtaposition of why we should defend the status quo at City Hall yet take great exception to the status quo at DeKalb County Schools. 

The bumper-sticker thinking argues that a reaction to perceived problems should be proportional to the individual tax one pays for each circus event. To wit: since property taxes levied by the city are much, much smaller than that of the DeKalb County Schools then long before one gets their knickers in a tangle over anything in the City they should first direct their outrage at all things DCSS*. Only after that outrage is exhausted should one turn their attention inward towards all things wild and wonderful in our fair City.  There is no doubt this is a deflective tactic.

 But it stirs some ponderings.

First and foremost is the whole local control meme. Wasn't that exactly why we formed a city in the first place? So we could have efficacious control over a responsive government as a direct consequence of some principle of locality? Isn't that the same principle of locality that we'll use to justify a breakaway City School System? And since this local control makes all things more responsive addressing City issues should be easy and supportive of the City Schools justification.  There really should be no harm in pushing the Easy Button before we mount up and joust with the very large windmill down in Tucker. Right?

From another perspective all these two targets of ire really have in common is that they are represented by numbers printed on the same bit of paper. Herein lies befuddling complexities.

Some folks don't actually receive that bit of paper. Turns out that those poor undesirable slobs shacking up in apartments pay these taxes via rent without ever seeing the actual bill. That way they don't know they're not getting a homestead exemption and can't deduct property taxes from income taxes either. But in the fashion of the Wold let's classify them as takers not makers and move on.

There is also a certain appeal to worst first. It does seem to work well when paving roads and it resonates with the philosophy of don't sweat the little things. But there is a spot of a problem here. Those amongst us who actually bother to sweat anything (the unwritten end of the sweaty things comment is that all things are little) realize that when things are little only a drop of sweat suffices but when allowed to become monsters there is no workout session powerful enough to sweat a thing that big. And isn't that the second pole holding up the breakaway City Schools tent?

There is another problem with the worst first mantra and that is the rather arbitrarily restricted reading list. Why not pull out that 1040 or better yet your last paystub of the year? Look at them numbers. You know--the amount you're paying for state and federal taxes. Are you happy with the entertainment value those dollars are buying? Then go fix that and then we'll talk about DeKalb Schools but only after you address the problem with Social Security and Medicare which for some of us carry frighteningly large paystub prices as well.

However if one believes some things are tamable and others not then one might argue that now is exactly the time to expend a few drops of sweat getting City Hall pointed the right direction before it is totally out of control like the grunting sweat hog that is DCSS.

To even consider this a reasonable view one must first accept that City Hall might be wandering from the path of righteousness and there are those amongst us who will not tolerate that notion or those who speak of it. Thankfully we have DCSS to occupy their time whilst others sweat the little things.

* We'll stick with DCSS for DeKalb County School System even though the term appears to have been deprecated.