Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

We should be offended by an internet fundraiser for "Keep Broad Ripple Safe"---such things as public safety, not subsidization of billionaire sports owners, constitute the purpose of city taxes.

   Apparently, folks who live in Broad Ripple are deadbeats. We believe ourselves “entitled” to public safety.
   The September, 2014, issue of “Broad Ripple Community Newsletter,” carries an article by Elizabeth Giffin titled, “Keep Broad Ripple Safe” in which she reports about some reactions to the “multiple incidents of violence” that arose this summer in Broad Ripple.  “The Broad Ripple Ripple Village Association (BRVA) then turned to Internet fundraising site Go Fund Me as a possible aid in its quest to enhance and promote safety measures in the village.” Funds are being sought, according to BRVA Executive Director Brooke Klejnot, to “‘enact high impact improvement projects that will improve the environment and restore safety faster’” and “include ‘additional security resources, lighting on the Avenue, common area maintenance and additional security cameras.’”
   After noting with “a total of $1,730raised at press time, however, the project has only received a little more than one-third of its $5,000 goal,” Ms. Giffin observes: “Slow response to the project might reflect the mixed feelings some citizens have towards such implementations.  Comments on the project’s official Go Fund Me page highlight citizens’ unease at donating without clear tracking their money and exactly how it is applied.  Others remark that as tax-paying citizens, they should be entitled to protection and safety without having to donate additional funds.”  There have been “additional suggestions for betterment, such as the introduction of parking permits for local homeowners.”
   First, one should realize the BRVA is a private organization. To belong to the BRVA, one need not live in Broad Ripple, own a business in Broad Ripple, or work in Broad Ripple.  Membership is composed of residents and businesses located within or near the northside Indianapolis area known as Broad Ripple,” according to the BRVA’s website. Membership application forms do not state a limitation on one’s location. BRVA is not part of local government, although it seems to exercise some authority like a local government. BRVA has a voice in zoning decisions, as one example. If you pay membership dues, you are a member.
   I thought that my ownership of property, my business location, and my voter registration gave me the right to a voice in all matters public in Broad Ripple.
   Second, and this is what struck me, is use of the word “entitlement.” To “entitle” is “to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something: furnish with grounds for laying claim.”  The American College Dictionary, 1962 ed., p. 401. A noun form, “entitlement,” carries nuances of people who unreasonably sit back and expect things. Social Security and Medicare are “entitlements” in this era. The 1962 dictionary’s definition of “entitle” is as valid today as it was over 50 years ago. We pay money to Social Security and to Medicare. We have a right or a claim to benefits from those programs. When we pay taxes to a city government, we have a right or claim to the things for which such taxes pay.
   During classes in Urban Politics and in Urban Sociology as an undergraduate at DePauw, the functions of a city government included provision of resources for public safety, as well as those for streets, bridges, education, and parks. There was no mention of anyone passing the hat to pay for police protection. There was no mention of large sports corporations that swoop into a community and grab any spare dollar for their operations.
   I find it offensive that BRVA would seek to raise funds for a basic service such as police protection. The most fundamental purpose of a government, in the context of social contract theory, is to protect us from the war of “all against all” as described by Thomas Hobbes in The Leviathan. We should not have to pay taxes then, when those dollars are too meager, pass the hat.
   You are damn straight I feel entitled to police protection. We have paid for that protection with our taxes.
   Other questions raised by people, such as “where is the money going?” that is donated, are valid. After all, why did a whole bunch of money go to one of Mayor Ballard’s buddies to build a parking garage at the corner of College and Broad Ripple Avenue? Why were our City-County Councilors not up in arms over that fiasco?
   Apparently, even members of soon-to-be-former Mayor Ballard’s party have begun to rebel. That is a good thing. They should have opposed give-aways a few years back. For that matter, members of the Democratic Party should have been more vocal in opposition to the ways of the Ballard administration.
   Finally, will five thousand dollars ($5,000.00)—the funding goal of BRVA in this project—buy very damn much of anything? On the other hand, the money Indianapolis spent on YOUR Pacers’ new score board was a figure with a lot more zeroes behind it. That money, more properly spent on such things as police, schools, and infrastructure, was given out of fear—Gasp!— YOUR Indiana Pacers might relocate.
   Jim Irsay will pay his half-million-dollar fine to the NFL with money that came, directly or indirectly, from us, the taxpayers. The owners of YOUR Indiana Pacers have protected their heirs from the possible effects of inheritance taxes through our funds.
   And yet people are killed, our public safety is lacking, and an internet fund-raiser takes place—and for what? Next time, let’s do a cake walk. City-County Councilors might understand the mechanics of cake-walks as means of raising revenues. Obviously, TIFs are outside the Councilors’ understanding.

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