Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Mayor's Job

Also available at mises.ca

A lot of people have said a lot of things about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. While Gawker is willing to pay up to $200,000 for the alleged cellphone video of Mayor Ford smoking crack, the Globe and Mail have done some actual journalism into the Ford family’s drug history. If elected officials are truly representatives of the city, then Toronto residents have every right to be embarrassed. The Ford administration has been a joke from day one. Politics aside, city services still seem to be functioning. I haven’t heard reports of traffic lights turning off, bus drivers staying home, street-cars spontaneously combusting or the streets overflowing with sewage. And in Canada, that’s essentially all the municipal bureaucracies do. The members of the city council are merely glorified custodians.

Despite all the hoopla around Ford and his crackpot administration, city services go on uninterrupted. Municipal government services are more or less autonomous; only their budgets, rules and regulations are determined by elected bureaucrats. The solution to Toronto’s mayor problem is not to elect another mayor. Somewhere along the bureaucratic hierarchy of municipal services, the rules and regulations from “higher up” can simply be ignored. Internal decentralization shifts the power closer to the workers and users of the services. Any paper work done by Ford or his cronies can be accomplished by lower-end bureaucrats.
To be really successful, municipal taxes should be paid on a voluntary basis. City services need the introduction of entrepreneurs and competitive enterprises. Ownership of roads, sidewalks and other municipal property can be homesteaded by its users. The immediate transition to no municipal government requires some adjusting, but the end result is worth the short-term correction. Especially if the same methods are applied to the provincial and federal governments.

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