Mugged By Reality

by Jonathan Chait | July 13, 2010

Jack Dunphy, a pseudonymous police officer who writes for National Review, complains:

Facing a budget shortfall, the city of Oakland is about to lay off 80 police officers.  This is hardly a wallop they can shrug off in a city where the murder rate is more than three times the national average.  So, in the event that last-minute negotiations fail to avert these layoffs, citizens in Oakland are being informed that if they should suffer any of the misfortunes on a list of 44 situations that once brought a police response, no officer will come to their door to take a report, much less try to do something about it.  Reports about incidents on the list will have to be made online, police say.

Right. State and local governments cannot run deficits. During a severe economic crisis, tax revenue plummets, while the need for spending (on poverty, crime, and so on) increases. The result is tax increases and service cutbacks that both deepen the crisis (the 80 laid-off cops will spend less money, in turn reducing the income of the movie theaters, restaurants, and so on that they would otherwise have patronized) and diminish the quality of life of those denied those services. The liberal position is that the federal government, which can borrow money, should give money to state and local governments in order to minimize such dislocations. The conservative position is that such grants are wasteful big government. I'm not sure Dunphy is aware that he's making the case for the liberal position.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/76244/mugged-reality