Who decides how you get where you want to go? “Why, I do!” you might say. Well, partially so. A good portion of the decision comes from visions of the future once or presently held by others. How about where you live? Who decides that? Again, partially others. Land use, suburban sprawl, walkable cities, stack-and-pack, transit first, highway network, are words and phrases coined by those who envision and perhaps ultimately determine your transportations choices, and therefore your domicile choices.
Moreover, visions evolve. What your choices are today suddenly may not be the ones you have tomorrow.
“In the future you would no longer have to live in a city just because you worked in one. You would live in the countryside or in 'garden apartments' around the city's rim. Factory workers would live in green towns just like everybody else. You would drive to work, or to sprawling green parks in the countryside, not on packed city streets but on landscaped highways.” (Gelernter, David. 1939: The Lost World of the Fair. The Free Press: New York, 1995.)
This is a succinct description by David Gelernter of the vision expressed by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The magnificent Futurama was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, sponsored by General Motors, and depicted automated highways and infinite suburbs. So, pretty soon, the American dream became a home in the city’s outskirts and Daddy commuting to work on a network of highways. Cars became increasingly more efficient and economical, while taxpayers accepted the idea of funding highway systems.
Back in 2011, Foster Gamble, president and co-founder of Clear Compass Media, created, produced, directed, and narrated the film Thrive. The film disturbed the status quo sufficiently to receive invective from a number of predictable sources. One source published an engaging piece called Deconstructing Libertarianism – A Critique Prompted by the Film Thrive. A quote in the piece acknowledged the following, “Politics is about story telling --- about which story will prevail.” (Larry Robinson, former mayor of Sebastopol, CA.). Good point. Therefore, we will take an opportunity here to tell our side of the story.
Contributors to Deconstructing Libertarianism were five scholars whose names appear after their quotes and at the end of this article. The publisher was the Praxis Peace Institute, founded in 2001, “a non-profit, peace education organization dedicated to deep inquiry, constructive dialogue, creative problem solving, and informed civic participation.” Praxis viewed the anarchic-leanings of Thrive as an affront to democracy and community. We Libertarians view societal challenges that Praxis claimed needed amelioration by government as largely government created during the past 75 years or so. Therefore, while Praxis saw legislation “for the common good” as solution, Libertarians see it as original problem.
Here is a list of outrages against democracy and community, such as elimination of the IRS and removal of market regulations, with which Praxis appeared particularly distressed, as well as a Libertarian take on the matter.
District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim’s latest salvo, Eviction Protections 2.0 (Ordinance 171-5) was approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 29, 2015. This amendment to San Francisco’s Administrative Code aims to “1) prohibit, with certain exceptions, rent increases based on the addition of occupants even where a pre-existing rental agreement or lease permits such an increase; 2) prevent evictions based on the addition of occupants if the landlord has unreasonably refused the tenant's written request, including a refusal based on the amount of occupants allowed by the rental agreement or lease; 3) require landlords, after certain vacancies, to set the new base rent for the next five years as the lawful rent in effect at the time of the vacancy.”
By way of emphasis, we repeat, “…even where a pre-existing rental agreement or lease permits such an increase.” Clearly, government’s traditional role of enforcing contracts freely entered between willing parties has disappeared into the rabbit hole of collectivism.
Public awareness of routine police violence, a serious problem in many parts of the world, has perhaps never been higher. The problem is not new of course, but thanks to the widespread use of video recording devices it has become much more visible.
In the United States, the deaths at police hands of victims like Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and many others have become national news and led to uprisings and clashes in places like Baltimore and Ferguson. Locally, victims like Alex Nieto, Idriss Stelley, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Kenneth Harding, and others have been shot and killed by members of the SFPD under often dubious circumstances.
This epidemic of police violence isn’t the fault of police officers alone. Officers are expected to enforce too many bad laws. Government programs like the failed “War on Drugs”, asset forfeiture – having your cash or property seized by police, often without ever being charged with a crime, and the burden falling on you to get it back – and statutes criminalizing victimless “crimes” like prostitution, gaming, carrying a weapon for self-defense, unlicensed economic activity (e.g. Eric Garner selling loose cigarettes), or just sitting on the sidewalk, are unjust and should have never been on the books.
We can later discuss whether the California legislature has legal authority to create such regional agencies. We can also later discuss motives behind self-serving non-profits. However, at present perhaps we need to talk about the ballot proposal itself.
There are a number of private non-profit foundations claiming to be working on conservation of the Bay, such as Baykeeper, Bay Institute of San Francisco, Friends of the Estuary, Save the Bay. There are governmental agencies already tasked with flood control, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Why is this Authority reinventing the wheel? Three possible answers should be cause for concern: 1) The trend of government taking over tasks performed by private and semi-private entities, thereby expanding funding from groups of voluntary supporters to all taxpayers who may or may not be supporters. 2) The trend to establish regional authorities for purposes of planning, fund raising, and execution, thereby placing these tasks further away from direct action by the taxpaying public. 3) The trend toward a top-down approach in the process of implementing systems.