Revenue Sharing and the City

By Walter W. Heller; Richard Ruggles et al. | Go to book overview

FEDERAL GRANTS TO CITIES, DIRECT AND INDIRECT

Carl S. Shoup*

Residents of urban areas want a higher level of government services of the kind that cities and suburban areas provide, and are willing to pay for them. This willingness to pay is, however, only an average; underneath, there lie sharp conflicts between groups of persons at different income and wealth levels within any one urban area. The very poor, for example, want more and better education and more and better housing; those in the same urban area who are on their way up may not be willing to sacrifice much in order to meet these wants of the very poor; and many of those in that same area who have reached the economic heights may be indifferent, not opposing but not promoting.

These conflicts of interest among social and economic groups are often lost sight of in preoccupation with the type of government service that, if made available to anyone in a specified group (usually a geographical group), is supplied to all other members of the group at zero marginal cost per person.1 Edu-

____________________
*
Professor of Economics, Columbia University.
1
Examples of a government service that can be supplied at zero marginal cost per person are eradication of mosquitoes in a certain area, or a theatre performance. The addition of one more resident to the mosquito-plagued area does not increase the total cost of mosquito eradication, and the departure of one

-92-

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Revenue Sharing and the City
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I THE PAPERS 1
  • A SYMPATHETIC REAPPRAISAL OF REVENUE SHARING 3
  • THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND FEDERALISM 39
  • II THE DISCUSSION 73
  • REFLECTIONS ON THE CASE FOR THE HELLER PLAN 75
  • FEDERAL GRANTS TO CITIES, DIRECT AND INDIRECT 92
  • COMMENTS ON BLOCK GRANTS TO THE STATES 100
  • REBUTTAL COMMENTS 107
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