"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Who pays?


So often with public services the issue isn’t even whether the service is needed – it’s that I don’t want to be the one paying for it. But someone has to . . .

In the recent decision in Lane v. City of Seattle, the Washington Supreme Court had to settle what seems a prosaic question: “In this case we must decide who will pay for fire hydrants in the city of Seattle and its suburbs.” A boring question rapidly turned into farce:

Seattle Public Utility (SPU) used to pay for them, passing the cost along to its ratepayers. The ratepayers object and want Seattle to foot the bill. If Seattle has to pay for its hydrants, it wants Lake Forest Park to pay for the hydrants in Lake Forest Park. Lake Forest Park, in turn, wants fire districts in Lake Forest Park to pay. The fire districts want someone, anyone, else to pay. On top of all that, the ratepayers want interest on improper past hydrant payments they recover and want Seattle’s new tax on SPU declared illegal. Finally, the fire districts claim they are no longer even parties to the litigation.

So it goes when the thinking is that taxes are evil . . .

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