Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who Should Pay?

Yesterday, a website set up to defray the extra city costs associated with Michael Jackson's memorial was shut down by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It appears LA is too classy to accept donations. Said the mayor, "This is a world-class city, and we provide fire and police protection, period."

Admittedly, the memorial's public costs ($1.4 million, including $1.1 million in police overtime) pale in comparison to city's budget ($7 billion for FY09-10) and donations from the website ($35,000 at the time it was shut down) would not likely have covered them in full. But why keep citizens from paying?

Those who enjoy the benefit of something should also bear its cost-- otherwise there is an incentive to over consume at the expense of others. City funds spent on extra police protection benefited those who attended the memorial, but others in Los Angeles will have to bear that cost in fewer future public services or increased taxes. It is difficult to separate those who benefited from the Jackson memorial from those who did not, but the donation website allowed a few of those who benefited to identify themselves and voluntarily contribute to the cost of the event. This is far superior to compulsory taxation.

So who should pay? I say allow people to donate as much as they like, and tax cable news for the rest.

No comments:

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty