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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11303/oh-you-want-the-mr-plow-who-plows-driveways/

Oh, You Want the Mr. Plow Who Plows Driveways…

December 22, 2009 by

It started snowing here in Charlottesville, Virginia, around 4 p.m. last Friday. The snow stopped around 6 p.m. Saturday. It’s now Tuesday night – more than 72 hours after the storm ended. The city and county governments have yet to clear most of the roads they supposedly “own.”Charlottesville is run by leftists who congratulate themselves for being “progressive.” During the recent city council elections, the winning candidates pledged to improve conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians, and bus riders; anything to reduce dependency on evil automobiles. Today, most of the city’s sidewalks and bike paths are impassable, and the city has suspended its monopoly bus service for all but two lines: One serving the out-of-session university, and the other serving the shopping malls, for “[r]iders in need of last-minute holiday shopping,” according to a city statement.

In other words, there’s bus service for people who generate sales tax revenue for the city – Charlottesville regularly lambasts its residents to “buy local” and avoid scary Internet vendors – but none for people living in residential areas who need to get to work.

It’s just as well. All the bus lines except the one serving the malls lose money. (Heck, the bus serving the university charges no fare at all!) The regular service is too infrequent to be of much value to anyone who considers his or her time a scarce resource.

As for the sidewalks, it’s not the city’s fault they haven’t been cleared. Sure, the city “owns” the sidewalks, but the city also passed a law requiring individuals and businesses to clear the sidewalks adjacent to their property. But that was too much of a nuisance, so the mayor “waived” that mandate. Until tomorrow. Then he’s going to start fining people who don’t clear the city’s sidewalks. He’s serious this time.

Anyhow, the city can’t do much about the sidewalks given that it hasn’t cleared the roads either. A commenter on a local website wrote, “EVERY grocery store and private enterprise has a clear parking lot. Can’t the city/county pay private citizens with plows to plow the roads? Do they HAVE TO rely on their own vehicles?” Of course they do. Those vehicles are operated by highly-compensated city employees. (Just like the buses the city won’t operate.) You can’t just allow anyone to plow snow for money.

Charlottesville lacked the resources and planning to deal with the higher-than-average snowfall. But we can’t blame the city for that. Heck, they’re not even working a full day. City Hall has opened two hours late every day this week.

{ 15 comments }

'Nuke' Gray December 22, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I wonder if all those government officials are trying to come back from Chokenhagland, but are snowed under?

Dave P December 22, 2009 at 8:16 pm

I hate to sound pessimistic, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if the city takes the same route that they do with sidewalks and make the citizens clear the street in front of their house or get some kind of fine!

Bruce Koerber December 22, 2009 at 9:10 pm

In other words, in a classical liberalism society all property will be taken care of and everyone will be more prosperous since there will be no coercive theft of income and no parasitic bureaucrats.

Ted Amadeus December 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Makes me damned glad I don’t live there, but the general turn of cities is to the left: They tend to exemplify living off others thoughtlessly, rather than striving for individual excellence and building team achievement on that.

Blendon December 23, 2009 at 6:59 am

["...I wouldn't be too surprised if the city takes the same route that they do with sidewalks and make the citizens clear the street in front of their house or get some kind of fine! "] Dave P.

____

Great idea… and SCOTUS thoroughly agrees with it.

Citizens should be forcibly drafted to clear ‘all’ the public roads, sidewalks, and pathways after any snow accumulation.

Further, citizens should routinely perform road maintenance, litter-removal, and construction all year long :

“…a state has inherent power to require every able-bodied man within its jurisdiction to labor for a reasonable time on public roads near his residence without direct compensation. This is a part of the duty which he owes to the public. ”

— BUTLER v. PERRY, 240 U.S.
328 (1916)
U.S. Supreme Court Decision

~~~~~~~~

TC December 23, 2009 at 7:40 am

You mentioned busses… in 14 years living in Raleigh, I’ve never seen a bus with more than 3 or 4 passengers riding in it. These are the same government planners who want to put in a multi-billion $ light rail system.

Jeffrey Quick December 23, 2009 at 8:14 am

Has anyone with a plow actually tried to clear their residential street? If so, did the city fine them?

Kris December 23, 2009 at 10:14 am

for 5 yrs a city plow never went down our St. in Columbus OH. It was so bad one year, everyone on the St. pitched in $10 to have neighbor plow it w/his truck. He was not fined, nor were our taxes reimbursed $10 to pay a private citizen to do public work.

Kris December 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

for 5 yrs a city plow never went down our St. in Columbus OH. It was so bad one year, everyone on the St. pitched in $10 to have neighbor plow it w/his truck. He was not fined, nor were our taxes reimbursed $10 to pay a private citizen to do public work.

Deefburger December 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

I lived for several years in Cazadero Ca. 140in rain/yr. in the Redwoods. We would wait 7 days or more for road crews to clear mud slides, fallen trees, and power lines.

We never waited even one day to get out and do it ourselves, at least clear the roads of fallen branches, and trees. With only two roads running up either side of the “creek” which would become a “river”, there was no way for crews to get in until the roads were cleared.

But for us, the wood, which was now legal for us to harvest was just as important as the clearing of the road. There was a direct benefit to us for doing the work, so we did it. A single branch from a redwood could be 30ft long and 6in in diameter. that’s a good portion of a cord. A single tree might be 8ft or more in diameter and 200+ ft. long. We would just remove the road obstructing section and have several cords.

At $150-$250/cord we were as happy as pigs in poop to do it. We heated our homes with wood stoves. It took 6-8 cords/winter to do that.

We would have been happy to do the other work too, if we had the equipment and some support from the community-at-large. The support was there, no matter what. With power out for that long, there was no refrigeration. So we would get together and have a soup and grill community feed. Great party, some new friends, and no lost resources. We set up fridges on generators and took turns keeping the food cold by unplugging cold units and plugging in warmer ones.

We did what we did because we had no expectation of service. No sense of entitlement kept us from acting on our own behalf. In addition, we had a real expectation of further loss if we did not act. Why? Because the county NEVER got to us first!

Anarchist December 23, 2009 at 11:20 am

“for 5 yrs a city plow never went down our St. in Columbus OH. It was so bad one year, everyone on the St. pitched in $10 to have neighbor plow it w/his truck. He was not fined, nor were our taxes reimbursed $10 to pay a private citizen to do public work.”

Direct action gets the goods.

James Kidd December 23, 2009 at 11:27 am

I live in Omaha, and when it snows here the city does a pretty good job of cleaning things up, just not my circle where I live. The last big storm left us in 3-4 foot drifts of windblown snow, and a private plow guy arrived in the morning going door to door charging 40-60 bucks a house to dig folks out. He was willing to take a check so I accepted and we were able to get out within 1 hour. The city showed up to our circle about 1 day later.

Joseph O. December 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I remember I tried to explain this one to someone from a bit further south than me and was absolutely shocked at the push back I got from him. I merely suggested it would be cheaper if the city just let out bids for snow removal (or county, or state). He evidently worked for a county hwy dept at one time and said that was impossible it would never work. I thought it made good sense because all the construction equipment used during the summer just sits idle most of the winter and most of it works better for moving snow than those stupid city trucks.

I know its not the best solution, but I have seen it work. Private contractors have a profit motive to get out there and move as much snow as they can. Besides what sense does it make to pay for more bureaucrats?

billwald December 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Worst snow storm in 300 years and the city didn’t have sufficient employees and equipment to handle it? You would have a reason to complain if the city DID have enough employees and equipment!

rambo679 September 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

“No, this is Tony Plow, from Leave it to Beaver…. Yea they were gay.”

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