In this season of long nights and festivals of lights, The New York Times has a story about some municipalities which are turning off streetlights (and in some cases pulling them up) in order to save money.
The reasons given are failing economy, decreasing tax bases, fund-strapped cities. In the case the NYT documents, a formerly-affluent suburb of Detroit, Highland Park, whose population has dropped from 50,000 to 12,000, was $4 million in debt to the local power company. The municipality struck a deal: it would "take away 1,300 of the city’s lights, add 200 lights in strategic locations, and the debt would be forgiven."
The result was predictable: residents complained and have changed their lives so they aren't out after dark in many neighborhoods. Some have begun systematically leaving their porchlights on, while others are installing security lights--a way of shifting the cost of lighting from the city to individuals.
This is pretty sad. Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said. When the 99 per cent pay up, they should get the services they need.