Is There Hope for Hartford?
. . . while mostly leaving the wealthy alone. Perhaps the Blue Model does not do what we think it does?
Read more below.
Hat tip: Instapundit
"Hartford’s problems are deep-seated, from high taxes and exorbitant living costs to widespread unemployment and rampant poverty. About a third of the city’s residents live below the poverty line. Wallethub.com recently rated it the worst capital city in America.
Bad policies have played a key role in the city’s demise. Property taxes are particularly oppressive, in part because, at just 18 square miles, Hartford is a small city in terms of area. With many nonprofit and public buildings, its property tax base is smaller still. This is one reason why the city has a bifurcated property tax—commercial property owners pay more than residential property owners. The city’s mill rate—a measure of the amount of tax payable per dollar of assessed value of property—is Connecticut’s highest, and it’s not even close: Hartford’s rate is more than 25 percent higher than the next-highest rate, and it’s seven times higher than wealthy Greenwich’s, which has one of the lowest mill rates. Hartford gives some relief to residents by levying the tax on only 30 percent of a home’s value, while it taxes commercial property at 70 percent of the assessed value.
Motor-vehicle owners aren’t as fortunate: the city taxes cars at 70 percent of assessed value. For a car worth $10,000, Hartford residents pay $520 in yearly taxes. In Greenwich, the tax on the same car comes to $79. To help city residents, the state will cap mill rates on motor vehicles starting in 2017."
So, what is the solution to a problem like this? Increase taxes? Cut services? Cut employment levels? The Blue Model no longer works in most of America and yet we cannot come to grips with this fact. We continue to believe that one more band aid will suffice. It will not. The problem at root is the socio-economic model no longer functions to produce the outcomes desired. The solution is to allow the move to a new socio-economic model. Yet our innate conservatism does not allow this action.
"Mayor Bronin doesn’t want to increase taxes to solve the city’s fiscal crisis, says Oz Griebel, chairman of MetroHartford Alliance, the city’s business group. What options are left? Bankruptcy, for one, Griebel conceded, though “nobody is jumping up and down saying let’s do it tomorrow.” If Hartford does seek Chapter 9 protection from its creditors, it’s likely to cause a stir. Officials in Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, nearly declared bankruptcy, but state lawmakers intervened. In Connecticut, municipalities can’t declare bankruptcy without permission from the governor, and in the past, governors have stepped in to block such moves—as in 1988, when the state quashed Bridgeport’s attempt to become the first U.S. municipality to declare bankruptcy. Connecticut may try to intervene if Hartford goes down this road, but the state is not in a good budgetary position to provide financial assistance, having never fully recovered from the 2008 recession. Connecticut already carries the most bonded debt per capita at the state level, and it faces significant pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) liabilities.
Meantime, Bronin has begun laying off city employees; he has also asked unions for millions of dollars in concessions. But a Democratic mayor can apply only so much pressure to public-sector unions in a city where the labor-backed Working Families Party exists as the principal alternative to the Democrats. Three Working Family Party members, along with six Democrats, sit on Hartford’s Court of Common Council. The power of the city’s unions helps explain why employee-compensation costs have gotten so far out of hand."
The state is in hock up to its eyeballs. The unions can't believe that the model no longer works, continue to foment for more government largess, the people are unwilling to accept reality, and understand that the turnip has no blood to give.
The mayor appears to be the last reasonable man, faced with the collapse, he works to prevent this outcome, while the rest work relentlessly to thwart his efforts.
As I have said so many times, the solutions for the collapse of the Blue Model will likely come from the bluest of states. This is because this is where the problems are the deepest, and most intractable. These are the places which will undergo the collapse, voluntarily or involuntarily, the soonest, and the places where the solution are most likely to arise.
As we have seen with Detroit and the many other municipal bankruptcies, no clear model for muni bankruptcy has arisen. Until it does, there will be much casting about for progressive solutions. The progressives hope beyond hope that the model they believe to be Utopia will again prevail. It will not. The progressive model lost its way by 1972, and we have been attempting to find a replacement ever since. Here at the End of History we know what works, republican governance, free markets, strictly limited government powers, and reformed religions.
The US is not working on republican governance, or reformed religions, we have, and understand those institutions. We are, however, working on the intersection of free markets with strictly limited government powers. We must remember that the point of government is power, and force. Government is a creation by the people to help limit the chaos, and anarchy of full individual freedom, and replace that with more limited liberty constrained by the rule of law. But the rule of law is meaningless if there is no enforcement. And, so, we authorize government to use absolute force, including death, to create, and sustain the rule of law.
(To be clear about what I mean with the words freedom and liberty: freedom means just that, freedom; liberty, on the other hand, means freedom constrained by individual responsibility. To be fully engaged, liberty must also be constrained by the rule of law.)
We also realize that power unconstrained, always results in tyranny, and so must be constrained, strictly, by limiting government power. All politics is a slider between security and liberty. Too much of either is necessarily undesirable, but finding the "Baby Bear" sweet spot is not only difficult, but not necessarily the same depending upon the time, the people, the needs, etcetera. In essence, this is the never ending story of politics.
Today we clearly need a new socio-economic model to help us achieve our current goals and desires as a people. The sooner we realize this, and agree to work towards a new model, the sooner we can implement that new model, and the sooner we will be able to achieve our goals and desires. The choice does not include the old Blue Model, and we must understand that fact. The choice is to move forward, and through experiment find the new model.
Good luck and God bless, this will likely be an exhilarating, and at times frustrating trip.