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“More bureaucracy isn’t a solution for homelessness.” That is the kind of headline readers would expect in a libertarian publication. It’s actually the headline of the lead editorial in the March 24 edition of The Sacramento Bee, the newspaper of record in California’s capital. Since this publication rarely criticizes bureaucracy, taxpayers will find the editorial worthy of attention.
Every year, the editorial notes, “tens of millions of dollars are spent trying to help people get off the streets – and, every year, the problem only seems to get worse.” So the spending is there, to the tune of about $40 million in Sacramento County, but with no solution in sight. The editorial board of the Bee wonders “whether any solution should involve yet another layer of bureaucracy,” noting that Sacramento County has just approved a new position for a director of homeless initiatives, with salary and benefits of $217,261 a year. The money is certainly there but “it’s a job with duties that are, at best, vague and, at worst, redundant.” The “stakeholders” in the homeless issue don’t agree on a solution and don’t recognize a chain of command. Therefore “adding a county director of homeless initiatives could complicate things even further.” So as they say, another layer of bureaucracy is no solution.
Meanwhile on the Bee’s op-ed page, on the same day, a headline reads: “California has too many small and stupid governments,” an opinion readers might expect from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The author, however, is Zocalo Public Square columnist Joe Mathews, not known as a critic of government. By his count, California has more than 6,000 governments, with 480 cities and “thousands of special districts that few Californians know anything about.” Mathews wants to reduce the numbers through consolidation but, as with bureaucracy, it follows that more levels of government would not be the solution to anything. As taxpayers know, California also has too many big and stupid governments.