Oakland’s police chief is making some dire claims about what his force will and will not respond to if layoffs go as planned.
Chief Anthony Batts listed exactly 44 situations that his officers will no longer respond to and they include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. He says if you live and Oakland and one of the above happens to you, you need to let police know on-line.
Obviously, Oakland has been hard hit by the recent economic recession, as have many other cities. What the article fails to mention is that Oakland has some of the highest tax rates in the region: a 9.75% sales tax rate (only the relatively unknown towns of Pico Rivera and South Gate have higher sales taxes) and a property tax rate of 1.33%, one of the highest in the state.
The government’s primary job is to protect the people’s rights to life, liberty, and property. Despite collecting more taxes than its competitors, Oakland has decided it can no longer protect its citizens’ property rights.
How can Oakland charge obscene rates of taxation and not be able to afford to provide the basic services government is supposed to provide?
Ballooning pension costs will push the city’s projected deficit to $58.7 million by July 2011.
The biggest portion of that budget shortfall is a debt payment of $43.9 million due July 1, 2011, to the old Police and Fire Retirement System. The payment would be more than 10 percent of the roughly $400 million city budget.
In the private sector, these defined benefit pensions have been largely phased out. Most companies now provide defined contribution plans, in which the employer and employee put money into an account which is then invested and whatever is left upon retirement belongs to the individual. But a defined benefit plan guarantees the individual a certain income upon retirement, regardless of how much he contributed and investment returns. Worse than the uncertainty of not knowing how much the employer, in this case the government, needs to contribute to provide the pension, governments purposely underfunded these pensions, borrowing against the future, and public unions continually demand increased pension benefits. As a result, government employees retire younger and receive more generous retirement benefits than private-sector employees while the government lacks the funds to actually provide them.
Now, the government is left with a choice. It can either cut back on government services, including the essential ones, or stop paying the pensions, essentially defaulting on its debt.
In the end, it was the combination of the greed of public unions and the incompetence, corruption, and hunger for power by government that is leading to the fall of civilization in places such as Oakland.