Monday, February 22, 2010

911 Is a Joke in Tracy, California

Tracy, California, I am sure it is a nice place to live, decent schools, nice people, a population of around 80,000, and hometown to MC Hammer according to Wikipedia. There is a problem with Tracy, though. The residents of Tracy will now have to pay to call 911 for emergency services. That is what inspired the above picture. I thought it was a joke when I first saw a tweet about it last week. Unfortunately for the residents of Tracy, CA it is not a joke. Residents do have options, however. They can pay a flat $48 fee for a whole year, pay $300 every time they use it, or the most unlikely choice of not calling 911 if they need emergency services. 911 service is surely one of the most essential services provided by local government, and raises a gigantic red flag if a city sees no other option than to begin charging for its most basic of functions. What are they spending money on if not 911? Is someone skimming? Are the people in charge just extremely bad at prioritizing? Something is amiss in the hometown of MC Hammer. Thomas Friedman, of The World is Flat fame, hypothesizes that this seemingly small news item signals a larger trend. I tend to believe what he has to write and say. I read The World is Flat and it was probably one of the smartest books I have read. He feels this is one of many coming measures introduced to get America through "the lean years." Read his story to get his whole take, but I think he is on to something. A city that charges for 911 is still ridiculous.

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