Consolidating towns

Posted by / 12-May-2020 15:49

A better solution would be to embrace the innovations - and failures - that would come from thousands of local experiments in adapting to our current financial situation.

Our state and local governments are in a bit of a pickle.

We see a city near failure and we feel obligated to bail them out. Yes, but that need not mean that a percentage of our people are condemned to live in ruin.

We currently have no mechanism to wring success out of failure. Natural systems - like economic systems - evolve, adapt and create only in an environment where failure is allowed. What if we took failing cities and put them in a sort of receivership?

If we want to build resilience and find solutions to our problems, we need to embrace the chaos - the innovation along with the failure - of natural systems and create a framework where local governments can experiment with responses to the current crisis.

(Above: Jon Corzine could afford a crib that most New Jerseyans could only dream of; he returned the favor to the small town of Loch Arbour by doubling their property taxes.)With an election coming up, we're hearing a lot about consolidating towns and school districts as a means of solving our property-tax problem.

Loch Arbour : Tiny town's tax bills to double under Corzine's 'reform' VIC YEPELLO/THE STAR LEDGERSophie Bubis, walks along a beach in Loch Arbour, where school taxes are set to jump significantly unless the court intervenes.

Unless a judge intervenes today, by this time tomorrow the residents of the tiny Jersey Shore...

But like consolidation in the banking sector, municipal consolidation will only amplify the underlying fragilities inherent in our development pattern.

But clearly, if we want innovation, we have to embrace failure. What if we gave a bonus to the communities that were most successful if they agreed to "adopt" one of the failing communities and walk them through a restructuring? Consolidation will not get at the core problems that our cities face.

The near-term increases in efficiency will mask the lack of innovation and the homogeneous outcomes that make all our cities vulnerable to the same Black Swans.

This lack of resilience will only be covered up by consolidation, the day of reckoning pushed off and made more difficult as a result.

Instead of consolidation, we should embrace the core strength of our system; an ability to innovate.

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In other words, we've come kicking and screaming into the "transformation" phase.

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