Friday, September 12, 2014

Size counts!

            Neoconservative "Free Market" ideology requires cutting all public sector services to the bone (even necessary regulatory functions like railway safety compliance and food inspection!)

            The results, of course, are pretty much what a non-ideologue (pragmatist) might predict: infrastructure falls apart, public safety and security fall are quietly shelved in the interest of international corporations' bottom line, the educational system goes to hell in a handbasket, life becomes less convenient, dumber, cruder..

             The urge to cut budgets (and corners) can operate on the micro-level as well as the macro. An interesting case of the perverse effects on neocon idiotology is emerging on Montréal Island, Québec. According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp news release, speaking about the closing of a local police station:

"The borough of Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trembles currently has two stations: one in RDP and one in PAT. The stations will be merged into one as a cost-cutting measure.
Community leaders say it's a bad idea." 

             Until 1998, when station 45 was opened in RDP, the ethnically mixed community was prey to street gangs, ethnic tension and petty crime. People were afraid to walk the streets and worried about the kind of environment they were raising their kids in. According to residents interviewed on a morning news program, station 45 changed all that. The police effectively became a unifying force, a respected and admired agent of community cohesion. (Boy, oh boy, when was the last time you heard someone say that about their local cops - Yo!) What I find particularly interesting and which was not addressed in the reportage I heard or read: despite the  substantial rise in community self-confidence and harmony, the actual drop in reported crime was fairly modest, 20%. The suggestion here is that the city got a big, big bang for its buck in installing a police station in an ethnically divided community! (Unfortunately for neocon logic, it's not easy to put a dollar value on things like community spirit and it's long term impact on community development..)

             One of the points stressed by community members was the degree to which having a local police station was critical in establishing a positive rapport between 1- the police and the community and 2- the different ethnic tribes composing the community. The fact that the police were visible and knew people on a face to face basis was considered to be a crucial factor in establishing these positive rapports.

            Here we apparently have a case where the principle "small is beautiful" really works. A smaller, more local, level of organization of police services seems to work better than more integrated, centralized structures (which may be said to fall victim to diseconomies of scale). 

internal blog links: 

keywords: budget cut (13 articles),  deregulation (6 articles)

(There is some overlap between these two groups, some articles are classified under both keywords)

No comments:

Post a Comment