"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

Who pays?

hydrant

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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