I’m not sure why folks are all so riled up over the tax rate increases — city, school and county. It’s precisely what you get when you believe in economics and public policy fairy tales.
Let me point out the characters in the make-believe world inhabited by those surprised year-after-year at the state of our local budgets:
- The Shared Services Warrior — an epic hero who bellows with might as to how he will slay the tax dragon, enthralling the crowds with his bold words and deeds of slayed dragons. Once this warrior meets the dragon, they immediately soil themselves and run back to the adoring crowds boasting of their confrontation with the dragon and how the defeat of the dragon is imminent on the next encounter. This warrior is a favorite of the punditry, the locals and the local editors who fall under the shared services oratory in their enthusiastic endorsement of these warriors. Meanwhile, the dragon sleeps undisturbed and unworried.
- The Ant Slayers — an epic hero convinced of his belief that the only way to slay the dragon is to destroy the ants in the dragon’s cave. Of course, the ants matter not to the affairs of the dragon but this epic hero battles on relentlessly attacking each ant with brutality. These epic heroes rail against rose gardens and 3 figure expenses out of 7 figure budgets. Still, these heroes are adored by the public.
- The Plunderers — a legion of warriors convinced that killing the dragon can be best achieved by destroying the cities before the dragon. Seeing the devastation caused by the Plunderers, the dragon will simply wilt from the shame of its ‘defeat’. The Plunderers sport sledge hammers, battering rams and a myriad of tools of destruction. Legend has it that a Plunderer will spontaneously combust upon contact with a brick , a beam of hewn wood or any material of essence to construct.
- The Wizards of Bafflement — the public adores these wizards who will magically transform the dragon from a might beast to a harmless lizard. While the Wizards can barely conjure smoke rings and on the rare chance that they conjure anything at all, it is usually a creature of a vile and disgusting sort. Nonetheless the Wizards speak profusely of how the defeat of the dragon is imminent if only the dragon could transform into a lizard. The Wizards grow irritated and indignant when asked how they will transform the dragon. “Fools!”, they cry. “Once the dragon is lizard, the dragon will be no more!”. While baffled, the public nonetheless adores the Wizards.
- The Legion of Woe — the many in the cities who believe that the dragon can be best slayed through tales of woe and angst retold generation after generation. The Legion nominates several Keepers of the Woe who decry any efforts to confront the dragon through any other means but woe and angst. “Why take our angst and woe away with such thoughts — heresy I say!”. The Keepers of the Woe yield great power although the dragon simply grows mightier and unperturbed on their watch.
- The Elders of Innocence — the esteemed elders of the city who did nothing as the dragon grew ever larger only to now assert their displeasure at the size of the dragon. The Elders much be protected at all costs regardless at how many women and children must be sacrificed to the dragon.
- The Elders of Lowliness– the lowly elders who must be sacrificed to preserve the interests of the Esteemed.
- The Jester — a man of foolish thoughts and ideals often found in the public square beseeching the public to confront the dragon and to reject the epic heroes above. Largely reviled and ridiculed, the jester nonetheless posts on and on seemingly to no avail. The Jester’s only hope for salvation rests upon pints of ale and mead albeit sans wenches as that will surely result in the guillotine deftly administered by the Queen.