Why Can’t I Have My Cake And Eat It Too?

Sometimes the tensions and contradictions in our public discourse are summed up with stunning simplicity.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has been running a series setting out the answers of candidates for local office to a set of standard questions.  Today the spotlight was on Hanover County.

The answers of a long-time incumbent on the Board of Supervisors struck me. First, he asserted, “I’ve never voted for a tax rate increase because I think we should only spend within our means.” OK, fair enough. I will let that one go. But, in answer to the question of what issues appear to be the most important to his constituents, he replied, “In my district, people don’t want more housing. It would mean having to pay for more schools and public services. People are also concerned about the lack of broadband and internet service.”

Don’t he and his constituents realize that they don’t have broadband and internet service because there are not enough houses in rural areas to make it worthwhile for cable companies to provide that service? If they don’t want any more houses, then how do they think they are going to get broadband? Should the county subsidize expanding broadband to those areas? Oh, that’s right. They don’t want to raise their tax rate.

— Dick Hall-Sizemore

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6 responses to “Why Can’t I Have My Cake And Eat It Too?”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Ha ha ha! Well…. sort of….

    In Spotsylvania, to this point, they never met a subdivision proposal they did not like, especially when proffers were allowed! They argued that the more houses/people you had, the more taxes you’d collect to pay for services… ditto for all that retail – because it collected sales taxes.

    But even though we have grown from hayseed rural area of 15,000 people to over 125,000 – we STILL have vast rural areas of the country without broadband AND turns out people want more services that there is tax revenue – our traffic has gone to hell in a handbasket (wonder where that phrase came from?) !!

    See the thing is – when folks move down our way from NoVa – they LOVE the (relatively) lower tax rates BUT they want a LOT MORE “stuff” that the former largely agrarian folks wanted. These folks want good schools, top-notch public safety, trails, dog parks, AND internet!

    See, what they now tell us is that if we keep getting more and more people, eventually, good jobs will locate here and we won’t have to commute to NoVa for jobs!

    We now are dealing with something called “pay/salary compression”.

    This is what happens when you train deputies and fire personnel and then try to pay them the upward trending market for entry level and that ends up with new hires making as much as 10-20 year veterans.
    All of this because if we don’t pay them enough – they will go find a better paying job in NoVa! We have a horrible attrition rate. Both entry level and career veterans leave for higher salaries in NoVa.

  2. I’ll bet the Hanover politician calls himself a Republican. Great free-market platform you got there, buddy. You can’t build new houses unless the Board of Supervisors in all its sublime wisdom thinks the county needs them.

    So much, too, for the right of people to do with their property what they wish…. like build houses on it.

    1. “So much, too, for the right of people to do with their property what they wish…. like build houses on it.”

      Your myopia on this particular issue is stunning. What is most unfortunate is that far too many local elected officials have a similar myopia the only difference being that their particular strain is made ever more virulent by campaign contributions.

      Just to be clear you are only entitled to the land uses you are currently zoned for, you are not entitled to speculate on higher density that may or may not be (more often not) provided for in the long range land use chapter of the local comp plan, nor are you entitled to higher average density than allowed for in the ordinances regardless how “pretty” your project is.

      Similarly, you are not entitled to include unbuildable acreage (RPA, ER, steep slopes, floodplains, etc.) in your density calculation.

      Nice of you to pontificate from your Ivory Tower while many of us are slogging it out on the front lines of the local land use wars.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: the right to do with your property- what you wish.

    I’d argue that is a fundamental issue with the libertarian approach to markets.

    First off – the “value” or “worth” of any property is directly dependent on access to it and that means public roads paid for by others – a very UN-libertarian concept. In a Libertarian world – someone also owns the road and charges for it’s use.

    And when it comes to “use” , a piece of property for your personal or family use is different than you wanting to sub-divide it to sell to others and that’s when it becomes an issue for others because such endeavors need roads, water, sewer, schools, fire/rescue, etc – and none of them provided by the “market”.

    All of that is governed by a non-market process called “zoning” and as a practical matter the design capacity of the publicly funded water and sewer system. It’s highly doubtful, for instance, that Hanover provides water/sewer taps to ANY property ANYWHERE in the county. And in a Libertarian world – if a property owner just wanted to dump their sewage in the backyard or in a creek on their property – the “market” would not intervene…. because that’s just an “externality”.

    So “Libertarinism” is just a bogus concept that some folks claim they are but when you get into details like this – it becomes apparent that it’s not really a real-world concept that actually works in the real world.

    The only true “free markets” are where there is no governance and few folks , not even the most self-proclaimed “libertarians” would actually want to live in those places!

    “small government” Conservatives have similar problems!

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I want it now, I want it all, and I want somebody else to pay for it. American politics in a nutshell.

  5. In 1896 my Great Grandfather bought 100 acres of land in Mathews county.
    At that time he could do anything he wanted with it,,, divide it up, sell it, start and run any business.
    That land is still in our family.
    Sadly every bureaucrat and every neighbor now gets to tell us what we can do with this land, ,,lot size, RPA setbacks, tidal and nontidal, wetland delineation and limitations, what trees we can cut down, where we can build a dock. As for business we have to get permits and permissions to run any business you want to name….and some are flat out not allowed.
    A huge overall taking and not one dam penny in compensation..

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