Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sometimes It Is The Smallest of Things

I've talked with my girlfriend about moving somewhere else for a spell for a little while know. I've spent my entire life in one state, and one city. I love the state, and the city is beautiful as far as cities go; however, I've always wanted to go somewhere else for a short amount of time. Though only a period, as I always intended on raising a family and being buried in my home state.

That's beginning to change though. Ever since our plastic bag ban, and the forced tax in paper bags by my ever so forward thinking city, I've felt this urge to get away. I will most definitely leave the city to the suburb cities, which are rapidly growing more economically important and aren't so oppresively progressive and hostile to anything conservative or libertarian.  But I've even thought about leaving the state recently.

The rot is beginning to really weigh down on me. I hear others talk about how well managed, beautiful, and just plain awesome my city is. Adam Carolla has expressed how he wishes LA was more like my city. But having traveled extensively, including world class cities such as Shanghai, Rome, and Seoul, those cities look bright and polished until you take the time to take a good look.
There's a rot in every city, its something our fore bearers understood. Looking at decrepit roads, druggies, graffiti doesn't tell you anything in my opinion in regards to the state of a city as these things exist everywhere. A newcomer doesn't see it unless its really bad, like in LA. But the rot of Portland or Seattle will go unnoticed by all except those who live there, and choose to see it.  (I think that's one reason why you so many 'cultural reactionary' bloggers come from the city.  You truly understand the the beast when you've been in its belly.) Government, the laws that it passes, and more importantly, chooses to enforce, will tell you everything you need to know.

My city has plenty of ill conceived laws that in some instances violated our own state constitution. A few years ago our former mayor, now running for secretary of state, passed a law banning conceal carry from public parks. Never mind this law would do no good, or that our state attorney general said that it violated the state Constitution and would lose a lawsuit; it was passed by the city council anyways. Less than a year later the law was overturned in court and our city was on the hook for a substantial amount of money. The law angered me, the shear stupidity of passing a law that there was no doubt that it would be overturned alone is aggravating. The amount of money that was wasted just so a few egos and consciouses could be assuaged is unbelievalbe. But I could, and did ignore it becuase it didn't affect my daily life. There was no way anyone could stop me from carrying as the law was unenforceable. 

There are allot of laws, like the smoking ban half a decade ago, or the recycling fines, that as a matter of principal I detested. Yet the inability for the local government to real enforce those laws, or the fact that the law didn't really affect my day to day life, I shook my head and went about my day.  However things have changed and the laws are beginning to encroach on my daily life in small, but to me, meaningful ways.  The relative nusciance, that I would poke fun at and mock, that the city government was, has turned into a full blown feces throwing terror on my back.

First my city increased the times that you had to pay for parking by two hours, from 8 to 6 am to 8 and 8, and increased the rate one had to pay to park.  Ostensibly this was to alleviate parking congestion for downtown, but no one was fooled by that line.  Our local government is desperate for cash, and has a transit agenda unlike any other; our mayor has made no secret his disdain for our commuter culture.  In the half year since this change has been implemented I have received 6 parking tickets, costing me over $ 500.  Now I usually get one or two tickets a year due to meetings that over ran their expected time.  However the increase of tickets were due to a number of things, mostly due the time change and the ever increasing number of areas were you are now not allowed to park.

Perhaps the most violating was that I received a ticket in front of my residence for having expired tabs.  Since this was a residential area with no restrictions on street parking, it meant that there was no real reason for a parking attendant (I refuse to call them police) to be there, other than to look for reasons to give someone a parking ticket to fill the cities empty coffers.  It felt like a shakedown. I had my car broken into a week ago, with nothing taken thankfully, and I can honestly say I felt more violated by this instance than by the break in.  Parking police ostensibly exist to ensure that there aren't individuals illegally parked or to ensure that someone is not car squatting.  But I should know better.  The thing that made me the most angry is I hear constantly about how our police are understaffed and under worked; yet our city deems it a good use of our increasingly scarce resources to dedicate an individual to spend his/her entire day giving tickets to someone who is a few days late renewing their tabs.

Then we have this new ban on plastic bags; which won't do anything environmentally. And this tax on paper bags.  Yes the tax is insignificant, but seeing the sign that says plastic bags have now been banned, as if it is the equivalent of cocaine or child porn, makes my blood boil.  Banning plastic bags does nothing for the enviroment, (didn't we develop biodegradable bags?) and simply makes life more difficult for everyone else,  It reminds me that my city is increasingly filling up with crusaders, and individuals who are willing to tolerate the most inane and pointless of laws that come from these crusaders. (It's really isn't any surprise considering that my state has long been a popular destination of people escaping California.)

I wish escaping the city to one of the affluent burbs, many of which are now cities in their own right and far more dynamic economically and demographically; however, I know that crusaderism and reliance on the state nanny is only spreading. Like I said earlier our state is filling up with individuals from states that have become so oppresively statist that their own people flee them like rats from a sinking ship.  It has effectively taken my state, which was a moderately republican swing state only two decades ago, into the full on blue brotherhood.

One of our bridges became a toll bridge, to fund improvements and a new light rail system that is going in, but our state decided to make the toll permanent.  We now have bridge where it costs anywhere from $ 3 to $ 5, one way mind you, which naturally has forced individuals to take alternate routes to work.  Our civic leaders probably had hoped that this would have increased ridership on mass transit, of course it didn't.  Even worse the second bridge, which also happens to be part of the interstate system, was pre-approved by the federal government to become a toll bridge as well.

Given that the 'burbs have dramatically changed and become more urbanized, and less dependent on the central city, over the last 15 years it makes me think that there will slowly be an exodus of companies from downtown to the surrounding areas. My city is essentially were Detroit was for automobiles in the 1950s and 60s and LA was for entertainment and technology during the 1980s and 1990s.  My state boasts many biotech companies, startups, and one of the largest technology based companies in the world, but so many of us assume that we will always have this advantage.  Too few remember that we lost a long standing company to Chicago only ten years ago. We've seen how this story ends.  Furthermore I believe that the direction a state goes is related to were its most affluent and influential cities go. Last I checked both the states that held LA, Detroit, and Chicago have been doing rather poorly for some period of time.

So now I am thinking about where else I could move.  Sad to say that I do not think there are many states that equal mine for natural beauty, and none in climate (though admittedly we are drizzly during the winter).  The one's I have decided that I might enjoy, and that my girl friend also liked, she rejected Virginia and North Carolina. Where Alaska, Colorado, Texas, and New Hampshire, though the latter got in their due to the Free State Project despite its proximity to two states I would rather not live in.  Each state has their own drawbacks, Texas would be a hell hole if a catastrophic collapse ever occurred (too many people and far too little water), but I think the likelihood of total civil collapse, even moderate civil collapse, as very unlikely.  Texas seems the winner so far, with Alaska being a close second.

Either way this won't be happening soon as I am working on a project that will occupy much of my time, and provide much needed experience, for the next year and a half.  But you can never start thinking about this thing too early. And while I know that it is probably absurd that something so small as a plastic bag ban has really spurred me into thinking about leaving, the fact is, it has.  I still hold out some hope, considering that I love the surrounding country side and that my family lives here, that I will grow out of this desire to leave.  But for some reason I am not so sure that I will.

5 comments:

  1. Don't move to Austin. Been working with a few conservative texans these past months and its basically San Francisco in Texas.
    I live in Northern Virginia, 2 hrs away from DC. Pretty quiet out here, nice weather, amazing wineries. Though I wouldn't know much about the social capital of the place cause I just go to work and come back home. I've never said a word to my neighbors in 8 years I've been here.

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    1. Something to think about for sure. My Girlfriend has been itching to move to Austin, but I have floated Houston as an alternative and I do have family near Dallas. She scratched Virginia right off of the bat, though she loves D.C, so I think if I wanted too I could push it harder.

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  2. I would definitely stay away from Austin. And I don't think much of Houston. Weather is muggy too much of the year, and they have been having a lot of crime problems ever since Katrina.

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  3. I've always figured that if I am going to move away from Wisconsin, then there would be no point in remaining in this country. If I don't like what's going on here it is more because of the federal government in any case. And figuring out a new state, that would not be much different culturally from this one, doesn't seem worth it.

    I've decided that I like China, because it is different and interesting, and moving towards more freedom or Brazil, even though its moving away from more liberty.

    Although Naughty Nomad puts a pretty good case for the Philippines.

    BTW, with your listing of things that you don't like I was reminded of Madison, WI, the plow the snow off of their bike paths before their roads.

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    1. I personally would not move to China. There are tremendous political pressures that are bubbling in that nation that are not often reported on by western media. I expect that country to become less economically dynamic and more politically unstable. Chinese millionaires are investing heavily in US commercial real estate development so they can obtain their investment visas to leave the country. There was a building that was finished not to long ago, near a project I am working on now, that was almost entirely financed by foreign Chinese money. If the US becomes an undesirable place to live than I do not see many other places to go.

      I bet Madison has a biking agenda like my own city.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.