Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How Much Worse Could it Be?

According to CNN, Youngstown, Ohio is disappearing:

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio ( -- Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods.

Now, in a radical move, the city - which has suffered since the steel industry left town and jobs dried up - is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far.

Under the initiative, dubbed Plan 2010, city officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives - up to $50,000 in grants - for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed. The city will save by cutting back on services like garbage pick-ups and street lighting in deserted areas.

Here are my recommendations, for whatever city fathers think they are worth:

1. The Youngstown Zoning Ordinance runs 173 single-spaced pages. It specifies in minute detail what kinds of buildings property owners may build, how to supplicate before the authorities when a building or its alteration is being contemplated, etc. Repeal it. Entirely.

2. Youngstown levies a 2 ¼ percent income tax on residents and nonresidents, and on profits earned by corporations from business done in the city. Repeal it. Entirely. Cities all over the country get along just fine without an income tax.

3. Adjust government spending as necessary.

4. The government of Ohio demands that Youngstown businesses acquire the following kinds of licenses if necessary:

Accounting License
Alcohol License
Asbestos Contractor's License
Auction Firm License
Barber Shop License
Bedding License
Certificate of Authority
Cosmetology Shop License
Dairy License
Design Firm License
Elevator Permit
Engineers/Surveyors Corp License
Fictitious Name Registration
Finance License
Insurance Business License
Landscaping License
Lottery License
Nursery License
Pesticide Business License
Pharmacy License
Real Estate License
Sales Tax Registration
Salon License
Security License
Tanning Facility License
Tobacco License
Vehicle Dealer License
Weights and Measures
Withholding Tax Registration
Worker's Compensation

Recognize that Western civilization survived and even flourished for centuries without, for example, the need for cosmetologists and real estate middlemen to be licensed by the government. Proclaim that in the name of reviving your city these requirements will be waived, and dare the government of Ohio to stop you.

5. Announce that the city of Youngstown no longer gives a rat’s patoot about how many workers you have, how much you’re paying them, and how many hours a week they are working. Declare Youngstown a sanctuary city for workers and employers who wish to simply bargain freely.

6. Remind yourself before taking these steps how bad things are now, and remember this ten years from now when they are much better and you are contemplating going back to the old ways.

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