Two local civic organizations—the Cincinnatus Association and Citizens for Civic Renewal—recently rolled out an inch-thick analysis ominously titled “A Dysfunctional Region.” Their diagnosis: our “patchwork of 130 political jurisdictions, four counties, 80 cities and villages, 50 townships and dozens of school districts,” wastes millions annually to provide duplicative services, hindering our efforts to attract jobs and grow our region. The Cincinnatus/CCR report is the latest in a long line of good-hearted but ultimately failed efforts going back to the 1960s to reform local government structures with roots in the 19th century.

Could this inability to break with the past be responsible for our region’s economic inertia? A recent Washington Post report shows that Hamilton County’s median household income, adjusted for inflation, peaked in 1969 at about $57,000, when Richard Nixon became president. We’ve been treading water ever since. When we “peaked” in 1969, Greater Cincinnati was ranked 21st among metropolitan areas. We have sunk to 28th, with once smaller regions like Columbus and Indianapolis (with their Metro styles of government) poised to pass us by 2020. It’s just a matter of time before we sink out of the top 30, like Brian Kelly’s latest underachieving football squad.

But in response to the Cincinnatus/CCR report, County Auditor Dusty Rhodes blustered in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed that the “Do-gooders can keep their regionalism.” Dusty’s response to any reform effort that could eliminate his job, like that of most local career politicians, has long been “why upset the trough at which we feed.”

My own experience in government reform was a bust. Back in the 1990s I chaired another Cincinnatus effort, funded in part by the Cincinnati Business Committee. We earnestly floated a plan to elect a county executive and a more representative county commission. But our plan to eliminate such elected offices like the sheriff, engineer, coroner and treasurer got the knickers of career pols like Dusty severely twisted. The plan never went to voters.

Lesson learned: When push comes to shove, the entrenched interests protecting the status quo are just too powerful in our town to be overcome by good intentions, particularly on an issue that makes most voters nod off.

So count me as one of those who have given up on any real chance of dialing down our dysfunction. Instead, maybe we should embrace the quirky benefits of all those cities, villages and school districts packed into our little corner of Ohio.

What would we do without towns like Arlington Heights, which seems to exist only to ticket drivers passing through their little chunk of I-75? One man’s speed trap is another man’s way of getting potholes filled.

And without all those endless cross-jurisdictional disputes over rebuilding our crumbling sewer system, what would local journalists have to yap about?

But the most significant silver lining of our region’s dysfunction is all those good paying local government jobs filled with our friends and neighbors. The basic premise of any reform effort to share services and become more efficient is to downsize hundreds of public workers, particularly middle managers and supervisors, who oversee the delivery of all that duplication. It’s very P&G, but instead of shedding underperforming brands, we’re talking about fire, police and sanitation departments.

Before we eliminate all that dysfunction, let’s run the numbers.

Don Mooney is a partner at the Cincinnati office of Ulmer & Berne LLC, and is active in local politics.