Nice comparison chart from Jo Jorgensen campaign (via reddit):
Of course she says nothing sensible about land rent and who’s entitled to collect it, but I’m gonna support her until I find a candidate who does.
I was only a bit surprised to find that Chicago’s 2020 police budget is $1,778,002,408, or $660 for each of the 2,693,976 folks that DJ Trump’s Census Bureau estimates live in Chicago. This doesn’t include $737.5 million for the police pension fund, nor $204,867,834 for the Office of Emergency Mgt and Communications, nor $135 million for “judgments and settlements against the City,” (including but not limited to police misbehavior), nor the police-related portion of the City’s capital budget, which seems to include the “joint public safety training academy” ($85 million, but just $15.75 million in the current year), and some other facilities. All told, and without doing the detailed analysis
which I wish the Civic Federation would do, it seems the the City spends something like $1000/person/year for police. That doesn’t necessarily mean that police should be defunded in whole or in part; after all, reported crime has for the most part been declining, so perhaps we are getting something for our money. But it gives some idea of the dollars involved. (And it turns out that, as I was writing this, the Civic Federation produced a post covering much the same ground, with better context and detail and colorful charts, and noting that I failed to include some undetermined but substantial benefit costs among the cost of police.)
Compare police costs to Chicago Public Schools. CPS is a separate unit of government, but controlled by the Mayor and funded mainly by Chicago property tax payers. For the current year, it’s planning to spend $7.84 billion, or $2910 per Chicago resident. Enrollment continues to decline, 13% in ten years (roughly the same amount as reported crime, but that might just be a coincidence).
Summing the police and school expenses, Chicago spends $3910/person. For the hypothetical family of four, that’s over $15,000. I wonder how many two-worker households would prefer to have one stay home, help educate the children, hiring tutors as needed, and keep an eye on the neighborhood, if their income increased by that amount. Just a thought.
Update September 27: It turns out I’m not the only one suggesting that we spend too much on government schools.
Wirepoints recently issued a helpful report showing state and local government pension debt per Chicago household. They estimate the burden at $144,000 per household. This is a big number, but one could suppose that a prosperous household, over decades, could bear such a burden. Some could, but probably not those below poverty level. Take them out of the picture and the per household amount rises to $172,000. Excluding households with incomes below $75,000, or below $200,000, and the per-household amount rises further, to $393,000 and $2,022,000 respectively.
Here’s their chart:
Of course this doesn’t consider land values, nor businesses. If prime Chicago land is worth $1,000/sq ft, that’s 5.38 sq miles. But more typical land value is much less, probably no more than $25/sq ft. (it seems that nobody has tried to estimate citywide values). That would be 112 square miles. Once we subtract land owned by governments, churches and other exempt nonprofits, we might be approaching the total value of all land in Chicago. And that’s just for pensions, not bonded debt, nor needed capital improvements. Real estate buyers know, or certainly should know, about these encumbrances.
Of course money can be raised from business taxes, but that’s hardly a way to grow economic opportunity for Chicagoans. I would consider any tax revenue from “gaming” as a kind of business tax.
The lesson Wirepoints draws from this is that pensions have to be downsized somehow, which required amending the state constitution. And they go further, comparing government salaries to those of the private sector:
So it looks like we’re going to have to confront a large number of people with guns and firehoses and control over our children, who have been getting a lot of money from us for years and may prefer not to moderate their demands.
Tho I don’t know how, this problem will be solved. Maybe MMT will yield a continuing stream of funds to bail us out. Maybe inflation will accelerate such that the fixed 3% compounded pension increase isn’t a burden. Maybe Chicagoans will decide that they just don’t want so many government “services.” Maybe politicians will decide to remove all taxes from productive economic activity, taxing only the value of land and other privileges (such as the private monopoly over street parking fees), which will grow the economy (while reducing the need for emergency services) sufficient to make pensions a non-issue.
And when it is solved, those who own land and other privileges will benefit most.
Many of us have long assumed that a strong demand for labor results in less crime. At least, less of the kind of crime people get imprisoned for. And of course we assume this works most strongly for people at the bottom of the economic ladder, a category which includes most of those released after serving time in prison.
Now we have a study (or more precisely, a report on a study because the original source is behind a paywall) which confirms this assumption. Basically, those released into a strong economy are less likely to return to prison than those released in slack times. Because the study was apparently done at the county level, there would be enough cases that it’s not a statistical artifact. From the abstract:
[B]eing released to a county with higher low-skilled wages significantly decreases the risk of recidivism. The impact of higher wages on recidivism is larger for both black offenders and first-time offenders, and in sectors that report being more willing to hire ex-offenders. These results are robust to individual- and county-level controls…
So, since taxing privilege rather than production is an economic development tool, we can also assert that it is an anti-crime measure.
The Washington Post says that Richmond, CA has reduced shootings by paying violent offenders up to $1,000 per month to be less violent. The murder rate declined by 50%. Even tho the cost of this program is less than the cost of adding one cop to the force, isn’t it wrong to bribe criminals to not commit crimes?
Of course it’s wrong, but it seems to work. So what if, instead of giving money to violent criminals, we gave money to everybody, thru a citizens dividend?
The Richmond program also hires mentors to help the beneficiaries stay out of trouble, which is an additional necessary component of a program like this.