Morning Buzz by Andy Kuhn
What I’m listening to – Happy Hour by Weezer
What I’m watching – I have been re-watching Entourage, not sure why? I miss LA probably
What I’m reading – Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
TL:DR – The free rider problem is real, and may be worse in recessed communities. The quick fix offered by companies like Domino’s only removes citizens further from the fact that these problems are ours and they aren’t going away.
Everyone’s feel good story about Domino’s Pizza helping fill pot holes immediately made my heart sink, and it is in this pit of despair from which I write.
In my part of America, the attitude of “someone else will pay for it” or “in the 70’s those things were fully funded by the government, why should we pay for it now” is more or less the norm.
This kind of apathy and delusion is dangerous, and is more than likely the attitude that will leave much of rural America sitting broke on its failing infrastructure wondering how their communities collapsed. Every time I see that Domino’s commercial now, I cringe because I know that some poor soul on a mountain road (that Domino’s doesn’t even deliver to) is wondering why the pizza giant won’t come and do the same for them.
Myself and a few others who are aware of shifting attitudes in the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) know full well the language coming out of Washington is more or less a shot across the bow. The change from “grant” to “match” in the application for assistance in water, sewer, fiber, transportation, site readiness services was not lost on many of us who are in the trenches trying desperately to help communities save and plan for a future.
Sadly, our voices in the proverbial desert are drowned out by the pipe dream that somehow Domino’s Pizza is going to come and patch up the thousands of potholes in our city streets. If not Domino’s maybe Pizza Hut or Papa Johns?
Surely there’s a pizza company out there that can bail us out of this mess.
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of the communities who got so creative with public private partnerships and found ways to get necessary infrastructure assistance.
If someone came offering a similar deal, I am 45% sure our city council would jump at the chance. The bottom line is, in many of our nation’s communities we have been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone else to come and do what is necessary and the cruel reality is, no one is coming.
In community after community I sit and watch as 90% funding allocations from FEMA cannot be exercised because coming up with the remaining 10% from townships, counties, and municipalities is to difficult to attain.
The costs associated with simple improvements or mandatory upgrades swallow up any margin that may have existed (it didn’t) and local officials are left to finding creative ways to help pay for new street sweepers, city fire trucks, or chip and seal on county roads.
The likelihood of getting a tax increase approved is so low, most legislators dare not speak the words our of fear of reprisal, and when you couple that with diminished tax burdens from aging populations, increased public assistance needs due to the non-working class, and flight of the vast majority of your younger workforce, we have helped turn once proud cities and towns into a collection of beggar states.
Now admittedly, I wrote this after a long difficult day when my patience is worn thin and I feel like its been a lost cause. That can explain the lack of positivism. Sadly, the same article could be written on the best day at work.
The reality doesn’t escape me on the best and worst days. So while other articles with my name attached as author mention keeping it positive in your organization, know that those are the coach speak to the beleaguered soul that sits and watches as communities with great resources and good people sputter on the edge of insolvency and obsolescence because they foolishly believe Domino’s Pizza will come and fix the pothole at the end of the street.
For a more nuanced and detailed analysis, check out Noah Smith’s article in Bloomberg on the same topic.