Dr. Richard Cirulli delves further into his growing body of work regarding societal evolution, known as the “Boomerang Series,” in his most recent article: “The Unfair Proportion of Percentages By Dr. Richard Cirulli, Ph.D.”, on Friday, May 11, 2018th, at 10am EDT, on the Westchester On the Level Internet radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink — http://tobtr.com/s/10749261 to listen to this segment from 10-11am.
The Unfair Proportion of Percentages By Dr. Richard Cirulli, Ph.D.
Any city, however small, is in fact, divided into two; one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another. — Plato, Republic
For this article the author shares food for thought over a few of the contradictions of democracy, regulation, and a universal diversity, specifically as it is practiced today. This article is not intended to be a broad brush criticism, rather to expose a few of humanities frail shortcomings. Local municipal governments are given attention herein for conforming to, being understandable of over issues focused upon, and illustrative of the issues expressed.
The examples used in this article are not intended to and should not be misconstrued to politicize or personalize concerns because it is not intentioned.
Local regulations and ordinances are implemented, in theory, for the sake of the general safety, health, and welfare, of the community. When these rules are broken, a fine is pre-ordained to remediate the “damage” caused by specific infraction(s) meant to teach an offender not to repeat the offense, as well as mitigate the concern by those who will shrink from such behavior because they do not want to suffer the consequences.
The ethical questions are whether the fines are intended to correct a wrong and to teach a lesson? Or are these fines punitive, implemented solely as a revenue stream to ease the management of government administration? To be objective, a city needs revenue to support an acceptable level of service. Municipalities are admonished by by accounting firms not to use such fees as a means to cover reckless spending shortfalls.
This leads to the next issue, that is, who enacts the ordinances, and sets the cost of those fines. We would like to believe that one of the benefits of democracy is a government “By the People,” absent of arbitrary distinctions and/or privileges.
The parking fine ordinance levied by municipalities are often quite punitive and at rates considered usury. We need to ask ourselves how the schedule of fines were set and by whom; it was not set by registered voters. Such fines are proposed by the Executive Branch of government, needing thereafter to win a majority vote among the Legislative Branch. This can prove problematic in affluent Westchester County where elected officials are high salary professionals, who oftentimes receive supplementary stipends and benefits to serve on such boards as the Common Councils City Councils. This trajectory is then shepherded to the next shortcoming and failure. In fact, the lack of diversity of financial means, knowledge of the standards of democracy, vast in scope or myopic, as well as deficiencies in language skills and lack of comprehension has exacerbated frustration, anger, and a lack of understanding among so many communities.
For instance, the annual mean income in America is $59,039, which begs the question, how many of our elected officials fall within this income range? Our affluent City Council/Common Council Members earn far in excess of this, and as a result are immune and insensitive to what chaos and hardship a $50 fine can have on a single parent, or those on fixed income limitations. Do our boards truly represent the diversity of incomes in their communities? A simple arithmetic calculation will clearly confirm a fine of $50 takes away a higher proportion of disposable income from people with lesser means, leaving them less for the basics of life. For the high wage earner $50 is merely an annoyance. To someone on a fixed income it’s a few days of food for the family, or money for their medications. I believe it is fair to suggest to our elected leaders to better define whose safety, health, and welfare they have in mind? Is it to the “corporate” city? Or the citizens who comprise the city? And, can a city government serve the sensibilities of two disparate masters?
In closing, it would be a sad realization to learn that what common councils/city councils have in common is merely affluence, money, and status; regardless of what self-imposed label they pin on themselves: Republican, Democrat, Liberal, or Conservative. And finally, inquire as to who regulates the regulators?
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired Professor of Business, Consultant, Writer, Playwright, Author, Columnist, Innocent Bystander, and Critic-at-Large. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org