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The National Citizen Survey done for the City of Watauga, TX 2011

January 19, 2012

http://www.cowtx.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=25

That’s the city press release for the survey.

Here’s my take on the survey.

Let me say at the outset of this that I was not a proponent of the study. I believe it was a complete waste of time and completely irrelevant. Now that I’ve read through the survey, I’m even more convinced of that opinion. I regret having to slog through the whole thing. I suppose the best good that will come of it is a chance for a rebuttal.

First, I’ll start with some generalities about why I think surveys like this are crap. They are based on feelings and not reality. If someone asks me my favorite drink, it would be easy to answer: Arizona Mandarin Orange Green Tea. I pay $2.25 per bottle for it when I’m in Los Angeles, and gladly do so. I might do so here, but I can’t find it. However, what do I drink almost all of the rest of the time? Water, because it’s already paid for.

If you ask me my favorite place to eat, I could answer that with Fuddruckers or some steak place, but if you ask where I most often eat it would be at Sam’s Club where I can get a slice of pizza and a drink for less than $3 or Costco where a hot dog and drink are less than $2.

So, there’s my first real complaint with the concept of the survey. If it’s not tied to dollars out of your pocket, it’s got no real value.

Secondly, who puts out the survey? International City/County Management Association. Would you expect them to be pro-government? Me too. I was not disappointed.

Thirdly, the basic assumptions of what makes for good government are never discussed. There’s a presumption that if the government does it, that it should be done well. I can’t buy into that. Government does FAR too much and they don’t do it well. I noticed that there were no questions at all asking things like this: “Does your local government respect your private property rights?”, “How would your standard of living be better if you weren’t paying for so many services for your neighbors?” or “Why should you be forced to pay for your neighbor’s water bill and city expenses?” There is a presumption of a greater and bigger role in government that is offensive to me.

Fourth, the survey really doesn’t represent the vast majority of people. Even survey respondents are only about 1/4 of those that were sent out. 3/4 of those invited to fill out the survey couldn’t be bothered because they didn’t care. The vast majority of people just want to be left alone to earn the money to take care of their family and to have those earnings at their disposal without fear of burglary, theft, taxes or fees. The government is largely irrelevant to them because it provides very little value. The greatest government is that which is not seen and requires little or no energy to deal with and leaves as many dollars in the pockets of those that earn them.

That’s my take.  I’ll go through the survey in more detail later, but for now, I wanted to get that out.

 

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