Saturday, September 30, 2006
Tragedy of the Commons--Again
My car is suffering from brake problems, and I took it to a garage this morning. Rather than have Debbie pick me up, I elected to leave the car at the garage and walk the two-plus miles home. Sherman Oaks, a suburb that is within the city limits of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, is actually a very nice area in which to walk. Residents, whether they happen to own their houses or live in the many apartment buildings nearby, generally take care of their surroundings and keep their places up.
There are nicely groomed yards and plenty of shade trees along the somewhat narrow streets. Alternatively, I can walk along Van Nuys Boulevard, Ventura Boulevard or any other of the major streets in the area and peer in the windows of the many storefronts lining that street for miles in either direction.
Today, as I walked along Van Nuys Boulevard, I paid attention to the buildings which housed the businesses I passed. Most were pretty well maintained. Many were older, with the inevitable faded paint and sometimes grafitti on broader walls. All in all, though, it's a nicer commercial street than many I've seen--as is nearby Ventura Boulevard.
What stood out negatively is the area around the freeway. Where the on- and off-ramps open into the street, they've erected very aesthetically pleasant low masonry walls to contain the trash and rubble that might roll down the slopes from the freeway. Between the wall and the sidewalk, they've placed paving stones rather than vegetation.
Now, this is all very nice, and CalTrans is to be commended for designing an aesthetically pleasing , as well as very efficient freeway system.
But.....politicians love to set up plans and programs, preferably with their names attached. They love to spend millions of dollars they could never have earned, on projects that may or may not be economically logical. There's never any thought given to long term maintenance. These were my thoughts as I paused to look at the well-crafted masonry, and the inches-thick layer of leaves both behind and in front of the retaining wall; the piles of trash mixed therein, the fast food bags tossed out of car windows as they exited the freeway, some obviously having lain there for weeks.
Nobody cleans it up. It lies there until wind blows it onto private property, then the property owner cleas it up. The politicians who spend the millions didn't think of, or arrange funding for maintenance and clean-up. I could bring up the fact that, when there were merely 160 million Americans, and the vast majority of those 160 millions paid less than 10% of their income in taxes to government at all levels, the US was a much cleaner, shinier and better maintained--even government property, if you can believe it!
Today, with nearly twice as many people, most working individuals pay on the order of 50% of their income to all levels of government. Property that's controlled by government is mostly shabby, unkempt, unmaintained. Government employees are unresponsive and undisciplined. Their laziness rivals that of career welfare recipients. They can't be terminated.
Nothing gets done.
Anywhere one travels in the great USA, one finds that (in general) private property is clean and well-maintained, and government property is filthy and in rugged condition.
I've long been an advocate of the privatization of....well, everything. Not only will it be far more just, but it'll make our part of the world a cleaner place! Individuals care for what they own.
This just in: in today's news on radio here in the Stalag, a study (I'll try to find the story in print) concludes that streets and highways in El Pueblo de Los Angeles are in the worst shape in the state, with the exception of those in San Jose. Knock me over with a feather! I drive on these alleged streets and highways every day. I have a big car with a soft suspension. I can only imagine how truck drivers and Yugo drivers manage, bumping down these cobblestone-like roads.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!