There’s a lot of back and forth in the news about the appropriate size, shape, and funding sources for government. At least … that’s what I see when I choose to pretend that people are talking and thinking about what’s good for the nation rather than just yelling at each other and vying for power.
In any event, I have an idealized recollection of Minnesota’s snow removal laws from when I lived in Saint Paul. They went something like this:
* The city is responsible for keeping the streets clear. They also cut out around fire hydrants and so on. That’s tax funded.
* Property owners are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear and safe.
* You have 12 hours after the snow stops to make that happen.
* After 12 hours, the city sends around crews. If the crews clear your sidewalks, you pay a moderate fine. It’s more than what you would have to pay someone to come and shovel for you (to discourage people from using the city as their snow service) – but not crippling.
* If you push your snow into the streets, you pay a fairly massive fine. I remember it being $700 per incident.
In my opinion, this setup strikes a nice balance. You’ve got a taxpayer funded system for shared infrastructure, an insistence on personal responsibility, and a safety net because – at the end of the day – you need to have clear sidewalks.
Maybe we could do something similar with health care?