Scarborough “Op-Eds” the Budget

Not long ago, Bacon’s Rebellion invited readers to “blog the budget.” Melanie Scarborough of the Washington Post rings in the new year today with a slash and burn op-ed excorciating “tax and spend” Republicans.

Scarborough has reviewed the budget and lists a few choice targets:

Why, for instance, are operating costs for the Department of Education’s central office expanding so rapidly — from $78 million in 2003 to $112 million this year to $126 million next year?

What is the justification for spending $7 million a year to educate 84 students at the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-Disabled at Hampton when, for about $82,000 a student, it surely would be cheaper to hire a tutor for each student?

Did anyone ask taxpayers if they want to fund a new visitors area at Bland Correctional Center so that criminals can entertain their guests in style?

Good questions. I suspect we’ll do another round here of “blog the budget,” including highlighting the comments we got the first time around.

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One response to “Scarborough “Op-Eds” the Budget”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    There were plenty of conflicting views of the future in the editorial section this week. Scarborough was even conflicted with herself:

    “Virginia politicians peddling tax increases and land restrictions know to package them as remedies for traffic jams.

    Another bridge across the Potomac might help alleviate tie-ups. Trying to outlaw “sprawl” will not. New roads invite development. Development attracts new residents, who create traffic jams. If you build the roads, they will come.

    Moreover, the alternative to development is forcing people to stay in already-congested areas. Whom does that help — except, perhaps, rural landowners who don’t want their bucolic settings disturbed?”

    Apparently there is no way out. And what about rural landowners who would like to sell sometime during their lifetime when the land use and transportation planning is completed? At least she then segued to a more tractable problem: Medicaid.

    Denise Scott Brown says: “Cities mqay see modest increases in upper-middle-class returnees, but the majority of working Americans and many of the elderly will choose single family detached suburbia.” Joel Garreau goes farther and says:”The single remaining reason for urban concentrations may be face to face contact.” She also points out that much of the money we are spending on schools will be wasted as people move South and West. Jane Holtz Kay predicts a backlash against mega-schools and a new walking school bus paradigm.

    Several commentators seem to think that global warming will make I-95 waterfront property. Others predict a scarcity of water. Bill McKibben quotes Sandra Postel as saying that “water savings on farms will simply go to fill urban swimming pools.” McKibbon points out that Boston uses 31% less water than in the 1980’s, but I suspect part of that is due to a decline in population there.

    Maybe schools in trailers isn’t such a bad idea: then we can move them as required. We can call them squeals on wheels. If we build our megaschools as modular trailers they will be easier to dismantle and reconstruct as the little red schoolhouses we all know and love.

    That will happen around the same time parents feel safe enough to let their children walk unescorted to school.

    If McKibben Garreu and Brown are right,re-urbanization is unlikely and it must be true that people who want to get married (or have sex) go to the city, while those that are married and have children go to the suburbs. pparently we are going to need a lot more small towns, and they will have to go someplace.

    McKibben’s comments about saving water on farms to fill the urban swimming pools supports my argument that the countryside isn’t getting enough credit or financial support for the services it provides in supporting the urban footprint. He goes so far as to say that this situation will resolve itself as crop yields fall and prices rise due to gloabal warming.

    Where EMR suggests that we raise the costs for those outside the “clear edge” by charging the full going rate for the far flung services he claims they recieve, I’d propose the opposite. If the cities had to pay the full costs for supporting the actual extent of the urban footprint, then stewards of the land outside the clear edge might have enough income so as not be to be obliged to sell out to the rapacious developers.

    At least Jane Holtz Kay has the sense to admit that the idea of “…dense, compact, tranit oriented communities, wrapped with rail, laced with walkable, bikeable routes and endowed with the inalienable right to live happily ever after in ecologically endowed mini-Meccas….” is little more than sweet dreams today.

    I can just imagine what Scarborough would have to say about the costs of planning, building, and enforcing all those mini-Meccas and linking them with high speed rail.

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