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Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary  Week 3314

 

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by Free Market Duck

Boise’s Ada County Detox Center Bankrupt Within One Year as Cities Refuse to Cough Up the Dough to Pay for it

(Aug 29th, 2010)

Boise, ID – As predicted, Boise’s Ada County Detox Center for drunks and druggies ain't working out so well as a government solution.

   It's actually rather humorous to read the Idaho Statesman's progressive (pun intended) historical articles from before The Drunk Tank was built, claiming the Treasure Valley Will Curl Up and Die Without a Detox Center, to after it was built, Yippee, The Detox Center Has Opened, Champagne for Everybody Except the Inmates, to today’s Oh-oh, Boise, Meridian, and Garden City Ain't Coughing up Enough Dough to Finance the New Detox Center.

   As we have reported over and over in these pages, Boise's Treasure Valley does not need a publicly-financed Detox Center.  Let the free market handle the drunks and druggies who CHOOSE to alter their brains with recreational booze and drugs and end up at emergency hospital clinics or jail.  That's exactly what those facilities are for: extraordinary emergencies.

   Let's stop pretending that hospital emergency rooms are not for drug overdoses.  The fact that county hospitals must take in indigent drunks and druggies is steeped in ridiculous law.  Change the law.  In a free market, the hospital could choose to accept these patients or not.  And that is what we should be striving for:  a free market in medicine, not more subsidized government intervention into the health care of Americans.  That's exactly what is wrong with ObamaCare, which hopefully will be repealed in 2011 with a new Congress.

   It is not the responsibility of Ada County citizens to pay for the alcohol and drug induced overdoses of the perps who can't handle their liquor and pills.  To the extent that the perps go on a crime spree, yes, it is the responsibility of the cops and courts to arrest and try the bad guys, and that's what we have law enforcement for:  criminal acts of infringement, not the fact that they ingested or over-ingested recreational substances.

   Using the standard left Liberal excuse of, "Well, gosh, gee whizzers, the drunks and druggies will end up in either jail or emergency hospital rooms we all have to pay for anyway," is a simple-ass excuse that is totally irrelevant since the law shouldn’t care why you committed the crime or what you ate for lunch before you robbed the bank.  For the same reasons we don't build Detox Robbery Centers for bank robbers and Detox Murder Centers for killers, we shouldn’t be building Detox Alcohol or Drug Centers for drunks and druggies on the premise that it would lower the cost of bank robbers and murderers having to go through being arrested, booked, and held down at the county jail.  How absurd.

   So, now we have the real costs coming in for the Treasure Valley's Necessary, Yeah, folks, Necessary Ha-Ha Detox Center:  a 16-bed joke in Ada County called The Allumbaugh House.  Notice how the state collectivists always call their monuments to state intervention a "House" instead of the "Drunk Tank” or “The Drug Hotel?"  That makes it sound more like a politically correct "goodie-goodie" place of It's Not My Fault, It's Society's Responsibility, Rehabilitation Center.  Uh-huh.  Right.  Progressives always like to remove individual rights and responsibility from human relationships and shift it to collectivist government control.

   But let’s listen in as the left Liberal Idaho Statesman now reports -- more like whining -- why the Detox Hotel, I mean Allumbaugh House, ain't working out so well:

"Now, Allumbaugh House symbolizes something else: another ugly and misdirected free-for-all between local governments."

   Really?  Wow, what a shock, girl friends.  We never saw this coming, right?  The Statesman continues:

"The basic dispute has nothing to do with detox, and centers on the costs of running magistrate courts. Armed with a pair of favorable court rulings, one dating to 1980, Ada County is seeking a total of more than $4.5 million from Boise, Meridian and Garden City."

   Wow, again.  Like the politicians didn't know the true costs of Allumbaugh House before they built it and FROM WHERE the funding would come?  More from the Progressive Idaho Statesman:

"The county has the law on its side, and the cities have an obligation to help pay. The cities can't be blamed for feeling sticker shock, though. Boise's annual bill would jump from $600,000 to $3.3 million. Meridian and Garden City each would pay $660,350, a steep increase from their current annual bill - zero."

   Whoa, so are you telling me that the City of Boise didn't know they were on the hook for an extra $2.75 million to $3 million in taxes for the Detox Hotel, I mean Allumbaugh House?  Tell us more, Statesman, tell us more, this is getting hilariously ridiculous:

"The county is playing hardball. The cities face an Oct. 1 eviction date. In the meantime, the cost-cutting commissioners are looking to jettison what they now call "non-essential services," such as their $250,000 share of Allumbaugh House's $1.8 million budget."

   Wait a NY minute here.  If Allumbaugh House's budget is $1.8 million, why does the City of Boise have to cough up $3.3 million?  Did everybody miss Basic Math 101A where we learned that 2 + 2 = 4, not 2 + 2 = $3.3 million?  Moving right along:

"So much for that teamwork thing. In case that wasn't already clear, the county also wants to whittle $60,000 from its annual dues to the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, a regional organization that includes elected officials from around the Valley."

   And what's this got to do with "The Bankrupt Drunk Tank" question?  Oh well, but let's try to -- as they say for beginning writers straying from the point -- "stick with the gorilla in the phone booth:"

"This budgetary brinksmanship undermines the county's case. However, it raises important questions about priorities - and who should pay for services."

   Oh yoo hoo... Shouldn't the source of financing have been determined long before "The Druggie House" was built?  Duh, Basic Project Management 101A... The Statesrag continues:

"No law requires local governments to support a detox center."

   What?  You mean nobody knew how this thing was going to be financed from the outset?

"But it is clearly wise, and critically important, to make substance-abuse treatment available to people who cannot otherwise afford it."

   Bullshit.  Should we erect firearms abuse centers for bank robbers?  “Now, Vinnie the Blade, how come you pulled a .45 magnum on the liquor store clerk, you bad boy?”  How about death abuse centers for murderers?  It is clearly unwise, from the Statesman’s own information above, for the government to jump into substance-abuse treatment for anybody, whether the perps can afford it or not.  This is not a collectivist issue.  It is an individual rights and responsibility issue, both for the drunks and druggies and those of us who are now forced to pay for the irresponsible drunks and druggies.  If they committed a crime, they belong in jail and we already pay for that.  If they need medical help, go straight to St. Luke's ER and charge it to Blue Cross.  Don't have Blue Cross?  Oooh, tough luck druggie.  Stay home and sleep it off.

"The alternatives, after all, include jail time and indigent ER care - with property taxpayers on the hook for either."

   True for jail time if a crime was committed, and we already covered that, but not true for ER care.  We already pay for cops and courts and that’s where criminals belong.  Hospitals can say no -- if not due to some archaic law.  If the law says hospitals must accept indigents, change the law.  It's up to the hospitals to choose whether they want to provide ER care pro bono, which is French for “freebies.”  If hospitals don't have a choice, change the law; don't build another statist monument to government absurdity in the health industry.

"Magistrate court services are clearly a statutory requirement. But who should pay the freight? Taxpayers, regardless of whether they send the money to the county or the city? Or the people who actually place the burden on the courts?"

   Easy peezy, lemon squeezy:  Criminals go to jail.  ER self-induced drunk and drug Bozos should pay their own freight at the hospital, either at the time of treatment or later.  Take out a loan.  Charge it on VISA.  Get a mortgage loan from Fannie & Freddie, they're flush with Obama money.  Whatever.  It’s the drunk’s and druggie’s responsibility, not society’s.

"Garden City Mayor John Evans makes a good point: Court fees have been frozen for 40 years.  The fees obviously are insufficient. If they covered costs, local officials wouldn't be playing chicken with detox services."

   So unfreeze them.  The major point, however, is -- knowing all this – it is clear that building the Allumbaugh House was a stupid stupid move and the bureaucrats have not solved anything.  In fact, they have made the drunk and druggie problem worse, as FM Duck predicted years ago, and the Idaho Statesman is reporting today, plus added an increased tax burden on Ada County taxpayers in the middle of the world's Greatest Recession.  But The Statesman editors still don’t get it:

"Local leaders should come up with some short-term patch to erase the current shortfall, and then concentrate their energy on a long-term solution. They should lobby the Legislature to increase court fees."

   More government?  Why am I not surprised?  The solution to one government intervention is to interject more government intervention?  No, they should not ask the state legislature for a damn thing.  Allumbaugh House should be sold to the highest commercial bidder and the government should get out of the business of trying to provide Drunk Tanks for irresponsible people.  Leave it to the private ER sector or courts if a crime was committed.  Stop trying to play Nanny State.

"Legislators share their constituents' distaste for property taxes, but they're more amenable to increased user fees."

   What user fees?  This entire problem came about because the "drug users" were said to be not able to pay for their ER.  Or does the Statesman now define "users" as the taxpayers and not the drunks?  Hey, you lost us on this one, Statesman.  What the hell quantum leap of gobbly-dee-gook language have you leaped to here?

"This shouldn't be that difficult a sell, if local officials can check dysfunction and drama at the door."

   The only dysfunction and drama have been the Idaho Statesman editors and other Progressive politicians who thought they should or could legislate Local Drunk Tanks but, as usual, had no clue why it was morally wrong or why it could not be easily funded.  Dang, this is enough to drive one to drink...  Where's my bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade? – FM Duck

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