I came across this http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110529/ap_on_re_us/us_fema_trailers_ban story yesterday. One of the small towns near where I grew up outside Birmingham was leveled by the recent tornadoes. FEMA has offered the residents trailers similar to those they handed out in New Orleans. The town’s people are eager for them, but the town has an ordinance forbidding single wide trailers and the mayor is sticking to his guns.
There are a number of things that strike me here. One, I’m proud to see a politician who has the cojones to stand up to the people…if he genuinely believes he is carrying out his duty to the Republic by keeping the people from making a decision in extremis that they will regret latter. That is why we elect representatives and entrust them with power.
But, before I wear my hand out patting him on the back, it is just as likely that he (and perhaps some developer friends) see this as an opportunity to speed up the process they began when they enacted the town ban on single wides in the first place, namely working to raise property values and here they have the opportunity to snatch up a bunch of property if the former owners feel they have to abandon the property and start over somewhere else.
If the mayor was really looking out for the best interests of his constituents, here is what I believe he should do. The government is willing to provide the residents with free shelter for a period of time, 18 months. That should be viewed as a contract between the state and the individual. At 18 months and 1 day the state trucks come and disconnect the trailers and haul them away. No exceptions. If you haven’t made other arrangements in 18 months you aren’t going to and you are in violation of your contract…your word means nothing to you so why should the rest of us allow this situation to drag on and on. Provide for the immediate need. But, be as willing to uphold BOTH ends of the social contract.
When did we, as a nation, stop honoring our word? When did we stop caring about our own integrity? It is examples like this that convince me we, as humanity, are not ready for true anarchism. Anarchism is moral system of self-governance and civil society. But we are not moral people nor is this a civil society…it’s not even an educated society.
I see a trend throughout history. The State is formed with the best of intentions, and, for a while, it serves its limited function well enough for most people. But, the people become lazy. The generation which formed the State from its deep well of anger at whatever had come before dies off, those with a sense of ownership for the thing they created are gone and the State takes off in a life of its own while those of us who live in it become increasingly detached from it.
Eventually, a generation arises which is so aggrieved it is willing to risk all, even life and limb, to change things. Here, history tends to branch. There is either regression, a dark age or neo-tribalism or warlordism or despotism of some sort, or a new State is formed that meets the needs of its creators well enough.
I sense that restiveness in America. We are an angry country. Unfortunately, we are not our fathers. I doubt, very much, we can craft something that will serve our needs well enough. IF we can make that leap, I believe it will be towards more monarchism/anarchism than we have ever seen before. The technology is growing now that will allow that. But, with the opportunity to grasp higher than ever before also comes the opportunity to fall farther than ever before. Will my grandchildren live in a world of technology, medicine, local governance and peace or will they sift through the rubble of our civilization as scavengers and wonder at our hubris?