Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Self control

Given the choice of looking after assets on-hand vs. initiating high-profile flashy new projects, the latter always wins. My previous post noted the 20-million gallon L.A. water pipe break (cited in today's WSJ). But every day there is a new chapter. Today's LA Times cites L.A. street repair shortcomings -- and the bizarre LA City Hall bungling behind it (see the whole story). They seemingly cannot find ways to spend earmarked street repairs money they have. The City Council had cancelled plans for a ballot measure that would have increased the local sales tax for street repairs just in time.

Call it a public choice story (public sector unions first; citizens last); call it a "squeaky wheel" story (public sector unions first; citizens last).

But the inept "leaders" are also the people eager to involve themselves in the cosmic issues -- "sustainability", "climate change", all sorts of private behavior (restaurant menus, e-cigarettes) or private contracts (employer-employee, renter-tenant, etc.). The hidden-true-cost-but-feel-good policies are always high on the agenda. It is beside the point that those who lead the charge have no special expertise in the cosmic issues. Why not show that you have mastered the basics and only then indulge in the fun stuff?  The fun-first impulses are what we try to teach the very young ones to control.