Budgeting is a Zero-Sum Game


Some sportsball event is being held (or has been held; that’s not the point) in Omaha. And, as usual, it’s stimulating the local economy.

One of the ways it stimulated the local economy was by sending “just under $700,000” [omaha] to Minnesota company MacQueen Emergency Group, to buy a plush new mobile command center.

Now, if those cops had been decent citizens, concerned with the well-being of all the citizens of Omaha, maybe they’d have gotten a local business to slap a bunch of electronics and some paint on an ordinary mobile home. I know you’re aware of some anti-cop bias on my part, but I’m just going to have to say: walking would probably be good exercise for them. It’s amazing that cops managed to coordinate anything before such vans were available, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, Omaha is cutting educational budgets. They’re probably cutting budgets all over the place, except for the sportsball franchise, and the cops. And the voters probably haven’t woken up yet and wondered “where did the resources go?” [omaha]

Tough choices lie ahead for the Omaha Public Schools as district officials begin deciding how to cut $26.4 million in staff and services.

On the line: roughly 100 jobs, with pink slips going out in the days ahead. Centralizing summer school, with fewer kids served. Eliminating high school busing, which some fear risks resegregating the district’s schools.

Know we know where the resources went! Some of them went into a mobile air-conditioned donut truck.

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which some fear risks resegregating the district’s schools” – Yeah, I bet they fear it. They fucking planned on it, you betcha.

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Cops haven’t changed much. Which is to say they haven’t gotten better at all: [ag]

I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where this happened here, they got three stop
signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer’s station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that’s not to
mention the aerial photography.

Comments

  1. anat says

    Also last year they ground up neighborhood roads because they didn’t have money to maintain them.

  2. komarov says

    It’s amazing that cops managed to coordinate anything before such vans were available, isn’t it?

    It’s also amazing how, in this century of networks and integration, anyone is not using their actual factual police building as the command center instead, doing their commanding from there. Well, that would mean they’d have to rely on – at least in part – public / city infrastructure to handle their communications. Of course that’s a major drawback in areas (or countries) where you never built proper infrastructure or allowed it to rot for the sake of company profit margins. Long story short: capitalism ruins everything.

    I do note, though, that 700k $ could have afforded a fair bit of infrastructure upgrade and repair that would also have benefitted the public. Omaha could even have made a deal with the private companies owning their infrastructure: We’ll invest the money and even throw some taxes incentives on the work done your way. The condition: You match the money we spend and we sign a contract so we can be sure you actually maintain all that shiny new stuff when it’s done.
    That way the money would also have had a more lasting impact than a protestor-magnet that’ll end up on fire at the first sign of trouble.

  3. says

    One of the ways it stimulated the local economy was by sending “just under $700,000” [omaha] to Minnesota company MacQueen Emergency Group, to buy a plush new mobile command center.
    Now, if those cops had been decent citizens, concerned with the well-being of all the citizens of Omaha, maybe they’d have gotten a local business to slap a bunch of electronics and some paint on an ordinary mobile home.

    If I get this correctly, politicians in Omaha decided to hire a company from another state. What’s so bad about that? If a business from another state/region/country can offer a better deal, then politicians should choose that instead of an inferior offer from some local business.

    I’m not inherently against “buy local” as a principle that helps guiding purchase decisions. After all, often it makes sense to buy from local businesses—you reduce CO2 emissions caused by long distance transportation, you also reduce the amount of days your stuff spends in transit. All that’s great. However, I don’t like it when politicians get obsessed about trying to take some money from their neighbor city/state/whatever (for example, by trying to buy only locally made stuff at all costs). All this does is shuffling money around, and ultimately everybody loses when states start to engage in this type of behavior. I suppose the most obvious example is when American states start offering tax cuts for businesses which choose their state. This forces other states to attempt to match the offer. This type of competition between states quickly spirals out of control, and soon everybody loses. Everybody except for rich businesses, which get to enjoy their tax-free life, that is.

    In my country tax cuts doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have the same problem. Here every city has its own major and a bunch of other elected politicians in charge of it. A couple of years ago they started competing against each other over who gets more tax money. Basically each one of them is attempting to take some money from their neighboring city. The result is plain ridiculous. For example, in the city where I live, public transportation tickets now cost less for people who live in this city. Before the new ticket pricing was implemented, public transportation tickets cost the same for everybody. Then you could just go to any shop and anonymously buy a bus ticket. Nowadays that’s no longer possible. Buying a bus ticket now has turned into an ordeal that requires going to a special office, showing your passport to the employee working there, and proving that you really do live in this city. Implementing the new system with segregated public transportation ticket costs was very expensive and the system still costs much more to maintain compared to the old days when everybody could anonymously buy a ticket for the same price. Cheaper public transportation costs were supposed to incentivize tax payers to declare their place of residence within this city. I don’t know whether this ridiculous system helped my city get a bit more tax money. It did manage to piss off majority of citizens, though. Those who don’t live in my city were annoyed about having to pay more for public transportation. Those who do live in my city were annoyed about being forced to waste at least an hour of their life in order to go to that stupid office and obtain all the documents necessary in order to be able to buy the cheaper tickets.

    Of course, politicians attempting to take a bit of money out of their neighbor’s pocket remains ridiculous, because there’s still the central government, which redistributes tax money by taking it from richer regions and cities and giving it to the poorer ones. Besides, we have a unified economy. Many people work in one city and live in another one. Pretty much everybody has relatives and family members who live in a different city. It’s inherently impossible for one region to prosper while the neighboring one stagnates in poverty. So why even bother with this crap?

  4. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#4:
    If I get this correctly, politicians in Omaha decided to hire a company from another state. What’s so bad about that?

    I was trying to head off the argument many sportsball addicts make, that it stimulates the local economy. It stimulates someone’s economy, usually the sportsballers’.

  5. jazzlet says

    komarov @#3:

    Well, that would mean they’d have to rely on – at least in part – public / city infrastructure to handle their communications.

    Even with good infrastucture this is not always possible with a large incident such as the London 07/07 bombings. There were just too many people trying to find out if their faily and friends are ok and the phone systems were overwhelmed. This was a real problem for all of the emergency servieces as their radios needed replacing and were already known to be patchy without the strain a major incident put on the system. Not I am not saying that this purchase was a wise use of Omaha’s budet eespecially as they are cutting education.

  6. says

    jazzlet@#6:
    Even with good infrastucture this is not always possible with a large incident such as the London 07/07 bombings.

    The way they do it in the US, police, fire, ambulance, etc – for each municipality – choose and buy their own gear. So, when there’s a crisis that involves everyone (like 9/11) the communication grids collapse because nobody has thought to standardize on equipment/frequencies, or encryption keys. It’s a very “free market” approach to producing a great big clusterfuck.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    Apparently, when all those diverted airplanes started landing at Canadian airports, Canadian people went to those airports and took the stranded people home for a few days.
    Possibly because of basic human decency, which doesn’t need to be co-ordinated.

  8. komarov says

    Re: Jazzlet (#6):

    Fair enough, exceptional crises need to be prepared for even if they’re exceptionally rare. But whatever the nature of the catastrophe, a truckful of cops sitting somewhere is probably the most useless thing to have on standby. If noone can communicate then they probably won’t know about the “mobile command centre” or where it’s currently parked. It’s not like the truck could talk to them.
    If I had to make an emergency plan for a no comms situation I’d simply declare a few suitáble buildings to be used as rally points to be occupied in case of a disaster.* Everyone would know well in advance where to go if things went awry. Being mobile isn’t always helpful. The truck should have named a “tactical command truck” in keeping with all the wonderful “tactical” gear out there: Overpriced and underutilised.

    Re: Marcus Ranum (#7):

    Very nice! Although to be fair to them, for proper standardisation and big picture stuff like that you need to hire professional systems engineers. They can spend years and tons of cash trying to come up with a universal system that works for everyone only to give up and leave you with a half-assed “global” system that will have to be scrapped anyway. I studied the subject at one time and that’s the lasting impression imparted to me. Proper clusterfucks don’t just emerge (with exceptions), they’re carefully designed and guided towards greatness.

    *”I’m commandeering this restaurant for the current crisis. Everyone will have to leave, except the burger flipper, the deep fryer lady and the coffe guy. You’ve been deputised. Collect your badges and resume your duties.”

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