I was recently traveling through the Texas hamlet of Silverburg, the only municipality in Texas to go bankrupt... several times. I was talking to Myrtle Scroop, the woman who swaps terms with her husband, Burl Scroop, as Mayor of Silverburg.
"Mayor Scroop, what do you attribute the reasons Silverburg isn't able to pay its bills?" I asked.
"Well, 'Choke, it's mostly because of the greedy richies here in Silverburg. They just won't pay their fair share".
"Hmmm. How many "Richies" you got nowadays?" I asked.
"Not many. Oncet we started raising their propidy taxes, they moved on outa town. That's why we have so many vacant houses. But had they done their duty and stayed, we woulda been alright. Greedy Richies!"
"How come no one bought the houses they abandoned? I would have thought that the prices would have come down once everyone walked out."
"Well, we don't want to lower the taxes on those that live luxurious. THat's a slap in the face of us all. Better we let 'em rot. Way too expensive to keep up anyways. Plus it would take too much free gas to heat 'em. Better off without them." said the estimable mayor.
"Free gas? What?", I asked.
"Hell, yes. The professors at the Junior College in town figgered that ever'one was due free gas and coca colas. God Given Human Right, they call it. Soshal Justice. Just like in Europe. Problem was, the local coca cola distributor said he couldn't just give it way to ever'one for free, greedy bastard that he was, so he packed up and moved to FLoydada one night. The free gas kinda went the same way. There were a few wells around here and we made the operators give us all the gas we could use. Hell, we have EVERYTHING jiggered to work on the free gas. Problem is, the free gas is declining and we have to ration it. People cain't use thier gas powered toothbrushes no more or keep the creek heated to 103 degrees year 'round. Some real bitchin' 'bout that, I tell you. Them professors are the loudest. They like their hot creek dips and they says it violates their human rights to be without. The ol' boys that drilled those gas wells took off a long time ago, an' no one else will drill us free gas wells, greedy bastards. The city is havin' to BUY free gas from some folks in Haskell County for upward a $5 an MCF! It has drained our whole city treasury!" complained the reddening mayor.
"Why don't you just start passing the cost of gas on to the citizens?", I asked.
"Din't you hear me, dumbass? It is a human right that free gas is! On top of that, we promised all the city employees full retirement at 50 and a free learjet. We can't pay for none of that if we have to pay for gas too. In fact, we really can't pay for it unless we take the ill got gains of all the richies. They can afford it."
"Where in the city budget do you publish our outline the retirment obligations you incure?", I asked reasonably.
"Well, we don't do that reconciliation stuff. Its for the chilrun! These are teachers, for God's sake. Our future. And garbagemen. And a passel of city administrators. Not sure what they all do, but we would be dead without 'em. The damn greedy businesses need to pay their fair share too."
"Wow. Why did you promise so much stuff?" I asked.
"You try to get elected without kissin' some babies, buddy boy! Them city unions tell us what they want, we give it to them, and then they get all their people to vote for us. See, they represent over 50% of the voters! It's a damn fine Pure Dee Mocracy at work! Just like Jefferson wanted".
I shook my head in wonderment listening to this theory of public management. It dawned on me that Silverburg, rather than being an insane example of stupidity, was, in fact far ahead of the Texas curve. These folks were living the California and New York paradigm of government.
I left Mayor Myrtle there pondering how she could get the government of Floydada to partner up with her and the rest of the Silverburg powers to expand their tax base of Greedy Richies. She still hadn't come up with the solution to the whole pesky freedom of mobility issue we have here.
All I could think of was "God Help those poor Silverburgians that don't work for the City, and God help those that do. I would give MY house away to!