Friday, October 14, 2005

Police Arrest Woman For $1 In Unpaid Taxes - Yahoo! News

Today's "The Government You Deserve" story brought to you by WLTW-TV in Cincinnati.

Remember all you Cincinnati folks, this is the government you voted for, the officials you wanted in office. Fred Enderle, City Manager who sent the police force after this woman, was either elected or hired by elected officials - and he's standing on the principle that it's OK to arrest and fine a woman for not paying her city income tax, all $1.16 of it. Thank the gods you Cinicinnati people have an upstanding principled city manager who won't let things like economies of scale or common sense get in the way.

Move out of Cincinnati while they still let you, and before they bring in another Kansas School Board member with an overload of principles and deficient common sense to be your next city manager...

Now before you all get on my shit for trashing a guy with principles (which I admire - about time we found a public official who actually has them and admits to them), let's discuss this from a different POV. Sure, he has principles, and he states them fairly accurately in the story - there are laws, and you have to comply with the laws. However, before that, he does state that there is some expense involved (ostensibly in the arrest and prosecution of this woman). This is where my admiration of his principles breaks down.

In the private sector, there are rules, by-laws, best practices, etc. You follow these because it's the best way to get the best return on your investment, whether that's a stock you bought, an employee you hired, some equipment you're leasing, or customer service you're delivering. Every rule, best practice, whatever, has a cost associated with it - computer programmers take extra time to comment code and follow standards because the initial cost (in terms of time) is made up later when it comes time to service the code. Auto manufacturers use bolts to fasten things, and take the time to specify those fasteners, because loosening a bolt is easier than breaking a weld when it comes time to service (a vast overgeneralization, I know, but bear with me - I'm running out of analogies).

So, there are costs and returns on the tules you follow when you're doing business. The minute the cost of following those rules becomes higher than the return you get from them, the rules get tossed. For example, if you're writing code that only gets used once in one place and will never be serviced, comments are not done, or are done in a very limited fashion.

The other thing to remember is that there very few universal laws, and almost none of them are codifiable into local code. How do you legislate being responsible? Honorable? Having integrity? You don't. The laws we follow in business - and the laws enacted by all governments - are made up by us. They may originate from a common experience, but they're certainly not universal.

So, the city manager asks what cost do you stop enforcing law? When the law is counter-productive to the economy of the city (i.e. when it will cost more to enforce than it will return to the city). And when the law being enforced does not protect one citizen from the harmful actions or inaction of another. The city is out $1.16, and has spent how much trying to track it down? Do the math - will the fines she pays even make up the difference? I doubt it, but I'd love to hear someone with real numbers...

Oh, and I've been getting spammed religiously in comments - if you've got something real to say, please do so, as I'd love to see something real. My dick and tits are big enough, my mortgage is fine thankyouverymuch, I don't want a fucking Rolex, and I don't need prescription Viagra - I don't give a flying fuck how much you like my blog, I ain't buying your shit, visiting your site, clicking your link, or looking at your pictures.

Vent mode off.

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